Dignity, hope and confidence are what employees of the Fayette County Public School System have packed into shoeboxes for neighbors in need.
Human Resources Director Dr. Reaneé Ellis, serving as an ambassador for the United Way of Fayette County Shoebox Project, put out a call for help with collecting 200 decorated shoeboxes filled with personal care items for homeless women and children. It did not take long before the shoeboxes started pouring in countywide from teachers and staff members, parents and students, student clubs, cafeteria staff, bus drivers, after -school program groups, entire schools and departments, the superintendent-elect and the interim superintendent, board members, and so many more. Dr. Ellis even enlisted the support of her college classmates, family, personal friends and sorority sisters.
Many of the schools made this a teachable moment through their character education programs. Cafeteria staff sat down and packed shoeboxes after they finished serving nutritious meals to students. Bus drivers parked their buses and dropped off shoes boxes at the front desk. Teachers sent emails to Dr. Ellis telling her that more and more boxes were ready for pick-up. This was truly a superb collective show of support from a hugely benevolent family of school district employees.
“We have really given back to our community in a BIG way. Today, our shoebox donation total is 356 and we have promises of even more. I appreciate the effort our Fayette County Public School System family put into this project. It is such a blessing to be able to offer tangible support to our community in this way. It is an equally great blessing to work with people who care so deeply about those who are just a little down on their luck right now,” said Dr. Ellis.
She said that a statement from one donor who said, “I could have opted to just send you funds but the sacrifice of time made to actually do the shopping was, what I consider, a part of the blessing”, especially touched her.
Among the local organizations that will receive the shoebox care packages are Fayette Youth Protection Home, Fayette County Department of Family and Children’s Services, Fayette Care Clinic, Fayette Senior Services (Meals on Wheels), The Real Life Center, Promise Place, Exceptional Ops, and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
The school district hopes the community will continue to support this initiative throughout the year by dropping off decorated shoeboxes and separately decorated box lids at the receptionist desk at the central office on Stonewall Avenue. The boxes can be filled with: (For Adults) travel size lotion, sun protector, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, tampons, panty liners, travel size water bottles, re-sealable zipper storage bags, travel size baby wipes, deodorant, toothbrush and tooth paste, hair comb/brush, lip balm, hand towel, travel size hand sanitizer, travel size tissue pack, non-alcoholic mouthwash, rain poncho, pre-paid phone cards, dental floss; (For Children) coloring books, pencil sharpeners, toys, children’s socks, crayons/pencils, barrettes, elastic bands, etc., children’s toothbrush and small books.