Community rallies around resource room
Thanks to collections taken as it was being set up over the summer, the Newberg High School resource room was already pretty well stocked with clothes, school supplies and food before it was set to open.
But thanks an outpouring of support at the Newberg Booster Club's Tiger Tailgate event prior to the first football game of the season Aug. 30, the expanded resource room is now overflowing with items that many students otherwise wouldn't have had to start the school year.
"We had so many binders donated that there's not even enough room to store them down there," activities director Mark Brown said. "Literally, people were bringing armfuls. Families were walking up with two and three bags of new supplies that they had gone to the store for and bought. And it was a whole range of things, from pens and pencils to reams of paper to backpacks and clothes."
The Tiger Tailgate featured a Stuff the Bus supply drive and backpacks were identified by school staff as the No. 1 priority item for the event, which ended up collecting more than 40.
"That was one of the bigger items that's more expensive, so to get 40 of those on top of what we had already gathered beforehand over the summer — we are definitely set on that now — was great," Brown said.
Brown serves as the liaison between the school and the group of parent volunteers, led by Holly Gaunt, that has taken over operating the resource room, which in turn has freed up some high school staff to focus on their primary duties.
Gaunt said the tailgate event has helped the resource room effort in just about every way possible, including direct monetary donations, as well as increasing volunteer interest and boosting awareness.
The booster club also raised $1,000 from concessions at the football game that night and will be presenting a check to the resource room at Friday's home football game versus Tigard.
"I think the main vibe was they were grateful that there were people in the community who saw a need and also opened it up for an easy way for everybody to participate in," Gaunt said. "Everybody wants to make sure kids have the basic needs, but when you think about making sure everybody does, it gets too daunting and you just don't do anything."
The beauty of the program, Gaunt continued, is that it has been set up so that contributing is easy and flexible.
Gaunt and Brown said that during the first week of school, the resource room was utilized by a handful of students during its regular hours, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when students have open access to it.
Gaunt noted that staff have also been giving students access to it on an individual basis for those who may want more privacy and expects that it will be utilized more and more as the students themselves become more aware of it.
To help in that effort, some of Brown's leadership students decorated a case in the main hallway of the school, showcasing many of the items the resource room has available for students.
"I think the Stuff the Bus event, along with bringing in the supplies, was really good publicity and helped spread the word that this year this is available for our students," Brown said. "A lot of people already know about it and I know (last) week on Wednesday and Friday a handful of students went down there and took advantage of it. There's starting to be some good traffic in and out of there."