By MORGAN MANNS
Community members, businesses and leaders have come together to help Fostoria City Schools’ students excel.
Leadership Seneca County’s class of 2018 has raised around $54,000 in donations to purchase basic necessities for less fortunate students through its “Ready Redmen Will Excel” project.
At $55 per student, these funds would give each student at least one new school uniform, basic school supplies, backpacks and personal hygiene products.
“We’re all very delighted and pleased with the donations,” class member and First Call for Help Fostoria program Coordinator Libra Martin said. “I think it’s great we’ve been able to come together as a class and a community to support these kids.”
The group has hosted fundraisers at Burger King, Chipotle and the Renaissance as well as been set up at two Fostoria Farmers’ Markets to promote their project. In addition, they have received about $47,000 in grant money and donations from area businesses and organizations.
The class will continue to accept monetary donations until the items are distributed at the end of August in order to meet its $68,500 goal.
Class members will be set up at the Fostoria Area of Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Car Show July 20 selling chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes and cold side dishes and accepting donations in an effort to raise more money.
Checks can be made payable to Leadership Seneca County and dropped off at the United Way of Fostoria office, 105 S. Main St., or mailed to P.O. Box 235, Tiffin, OH 44883. Donations can also be made at the class’ gofundme account: https://www.gofundme.com/lsc-ready-redmen-will-excel.
In addition, the class has donation boxes set up at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital and the Mennel Milling Co. for donations of new material items such as campus wear, school supplies (pens, crayons and folders) and hygiene products (travel-sized soap and shampoo, tissue boxes and deodorants).
The leadership class is working closely with the school to determine students who are in need of the items, with a priority on the homeless and those under the poverty level.
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Martin said 1,280 letters were sent out and 377 were returned. Forms will be accepted through Friday at the United Way of Fostoria office or at the FCS Board of Education office, 1001 Park Ave., which closes at 11 a.m. Friday.
Eligible students who return the forms are asked to meet at the Back to School Bash, slated from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 8, to receive information about the pickup location, date and time.
Each book bag will be about the same, with smaller bags given to younger children and items more catered to the age group.
Each student will receive at least one new school uniform (shirt and pants), basic school supplies such as pencils and folders and toiletry items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, body soap and shampoo.
“We hope the parents understand we can’t buy everything; we just can’t afford it,” Martin said.
Extra uniforms of all sizes will be placed in the school offices for students in need; totes of extra school supplies will be placed in the classrooms for those who can’t afford all of the supplies; small snacks will be placed in the school offices for teachers to use as needed; and backpacks would be filled with toiletries and hygiene products.
“It’s been a great experience for the Leadership class,” Martin said. “We’re in awe of the community’s support and the grants we’ve been able to receive funding from. We’re delighted to be able to help the students and we hope that with a little extra support — with the supplies and basic needs — that it makes an impact on the students in a positive way.”
Founded in 1996, Leadership Seneca County strives to educate and inspire “individuals to be dynamic leaders and contributors in the workplace and the community.” Every Leadership Seneca County class must collectively come up with a project that will directly impact Seneca County and its residents.
Because Fostoria ranked third in the state in terms of child poverty, according to census records, and FCS has an 85 percent poverty rate, 77 percent of which live in Seneca County, the class chose to make an impact on the students.
“We believe this will make the biggest impact,” Martin previously said. “(Fostoria City Schools’) focus is on attendance and making a big deal of the kids coming to school. If their basic needs are met, they’re more likely to come to school and apply themselves. By meeting their basic needs, we can, in turn, help with attendance. And if they’re in school, the teachers can educate them.”
Organizations or individuals interested in supporting the project through monetary or material donations or through a partnership may contact Martin at the United Way of Fostoria at 419-435-2555.
For more information on Leadership Seneca County or “Ready Redmen Will Excel,” visit the Leadership Seneca County Facebook page.