How One West Michigan Mom Listening Made a Big Difference
Audrey Wendt is a local mom of three, and a nurse at the Spectrum Health Butterworth Emergency Department.
Helping people in their time of need is her absolute favorite thing to do.
A few weeks ago, her son’s kindergarten teacher put out a call asking parents to purchase toys and supplies for her classroom. This year, children in the classroom would not be able to share supplies between the other kindergarten classrooms at school.
Audrey read the email, bought a few items online, and put the email away. Checking back a few days later, she saw that the full list of items had been fulfilled and that was that, or so she thought.
Something about the situation began to bother her.
Plagued by a restlessness that wouldn’t let her sleep, Audrey finally put her finger on it at 3 am. What was bothering her? It was the realization that lower-income schools in our community didn’t have the same access to these essential kindergarten resources.
NOT JUST A BYSTANDER
Compelled to Help
Rather than push this realization aside, Audrey decided to act.
That morning, she researched different schools in the area and chose one that I believed might have the greatest need for assistance: Buchanan Elementary School in SW Grand Rapids, MI.
Aubrey called the school, talked to the staff about what was on her heart, and asked questions about their plans for the kindergarten class that year.
The response? Due to Covid-19 the school’s budget was extra tight and the teachers were struggling to have enough basic supplies because each student needed their own individual items.
The school system had decided recess, and other classes that would bring the children out of their designated classroom, would not be appropriate due to potential viral transmission. As a result, the teachers were in the challenging position of keeping the kids’ attention for the full day, without the help of helpful supplies.
Audrey verbally committed to finding a way to help the kindergarten classes at the school and was promptly given the email addresses of the three teachers. She emailed them right away, asking about supply needs, as well as some fun, extra toys.
They quickly replied: Crayons, play-doh, coloring books, and pipe cleaners. That was it. What?!
If Audrey had her way, those students would be getting more than crayons, play-doh and pipe cleaners. She immediately made a “Buchanan Elementary School Amazon Wish List” and shared it on her small, personal network on Facebook.
The Community Shows Up
Audrey’s Facebook post immediately struck people and a fire of love was started.
Within 48 hours, $3,000 dollars worth of supplies had been ordered from the wish list and were on their way to her house. In 5 days they had $5,000 dollars worth of supplies!
And now, just 11 days later, they have $8,000 dollars worth of supplies pouring in and counting.
Audrey has grown her goal with the growth of supplies: She hopes to be able to supply each grade of the school with items that they need, too, but she needs the community’s help once again.
So far, the Pre-K, Kindergarten, most of the 1st grade, and the school gym teacher’s requests have been met. They are currently working on requests from the 2nd-grade class and the art teacher, and she hopes they can tackle 3rd-5th grade requests in the coming weeks.
Items ordered from this list will get shipped to Audrey’s house, where volunteers are organizing items by grade and plan to deliver at the end of October when the students begin in-person learning at GRPS.
*If you do not feel comfortable shipping items to Audrey, please ship the items directly to the school at 1775 Buchanan Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49507.
The students at Buchanan are also trying to raise money for a “Book Vending Machine.” A child receives a ticket for good behavior and will be able to pick out a book from the vending machine as a prize. We think this is such an excellent way to promote positive reinforcement!
Audrey encourages anyone interested in copying her to reach out to their local schools, especially the ones that are at higher risk for lacking funds.
It only takes one phone call, one email, and a few minutes to set up an “Amazon Wish List” for a class, grade, or school! Set up the items to be directly shipped to the school and post it to your social media. It is the easiest, most convenient way of helping schools get their essential supplies! This makes a HUGE impact in these children’s lives.