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Each elementary classroom in district will receive $200 in discretionary funds

PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais School District staff accepted on Jan. 18 a $3,600 donation from United Way, which will be distributed to elementary classrooms to cover expenses not accounted for in the district budget.
Outfitting an elementary school classroom for the year is an expensive endeavor, and when the allocated budget doesn't stretch far enough, it's not unusual for teachers to make up the difference with their own money.

Recognizing that, United Way has pledged to provide $200 for every K-5 classroom in Marion, Yamhill and Polk counties this year, and made its way to the Gervais School District last week to gift a $3,600 donation to Gervais Elementary School at the district's board meeting.

"We really appreciate the impact you have on our future," said Liz Schrader, development director for United Way, speaking to GSD staff members in the audience. "We deeply are grateful to you for caring for our community's children in ways that go beyond your job description."

The donations are part of the United for Classrooms grant program, allowing teachers to spend the funds as best fits the needs of their classrooms. Donated funds are restricted from use for field trips, curriculum and personnel costs and are meant to make up for teachers' ancillary expenditures.

These expenses can range from small things like hand sanitizer and tissues to individual expenses, such as personal hygiene products or coats and gloves for students in need of warm clothing.

"None of us would be where we are if it wasn't for a teacher impacting our lives," said Cassie Cruz, development coordinator for the United Way. "We would not have our education. We would not be the individuals that we are. I have to say thank you. You walk alongside these kids, sometimes in the hardest parts of their lives."

The Gervais School District is the most recent recipient of United Way donations in northern Marion County. United Way donated $7,200 to the North Marion School District in October and more than $20,000 to the Woodburn School District earlier in 2018.

In presenting the donations at school districts, Cruz said she is often asked about what sort of catch or stipulation comes along with the gifts. Cruz said there is no catch, other than the fact that she would like the donations to become an annual gift.

"The catch is spread the word," Cruz said. "We want this to happen every year. We want to grow this program and spread beyond K-5. Next year maybe it's $300 or maybe we get to help high schools."

To find more information about United Way or to make a donation to the United for Classrooms program, go to www.unitedwaymwv.org/support-united-for-classrooms.html.

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