Maryland School Holiday Gifts
Several days before Christmas we visited the apartment of our Ugandan family, delivering a carload of gifts for the children, bags of new blankets, and grocery gift cards for the family. Their eyes were large as they helped carry the brightly wrapped packages upstairs, and excitement was evident. Timing was good—mom was not heading to work that afternoon, and dad would be home by dinnertime, so the whole family would be together in the evening to open gifts. A very special holiday treat for this family, and mom and the older children were full of gratitude. The grocery gift cards helped to provide food while the kids were home from school for two weeks, and of course, they keep growing, so the new clothes are much needed. Many thanks to all of you who shopped, wrapped gifts, donated funds for gifts and gift cards. Through your generosity we are able to help Tito and Saverina’s family feel welcomed and cared about by the community. She is one of nine children, with a brother and family who live in Phoenix. He is one of eleven, with a mother, sister and family here in Phoenix. All the rest of their family remains in Uganda.
Tax Credit Donation
Arizona State Tax Credit Donations are really appreciated at Maryland School, to support a variety of activities that are not adequately funded in the school budget, such as after school sports, academic classes for at risk students, and community engagement activities, as well as the garden. Our contributions ($200 for individual tax return, $400 for couple) may be made with a donation form up to April 15, 2022.
In addition to the above, UUCP has had a modified presence at Maryland School in 2021 during the COVID period. Although students did not attend school in person during the first half of the year, we continued to maintain the garden, delivering some vegetables to families and participating in the Blue Watermelon Project’s Chef in the Garden experience, where kits of materials were picked up by 30 students each month to grow a plant and prepare a recipe with materials provided. We also helped with the distribution of breakfast and lunch materials to a location near the apartments of some of the refugee families. At the end of the year, a generous Partnership donor gave scholarships to six graduating eighth graders to cover some freshman year expenses at Washington High School.
Our goal with the Partnership (which includes Church of the Beatitudes and Beatitudes Campus senior living community) is to provide support for Maryland School, which is a Title I school, with more than 80% of the students coming from income families. These schools receive additional federal funding to provide extra resources for academic, mental health, nutritional, and staff support, but not nearly enough to meet the needs. Each school district and each school must reach out to the community for additional support, which is where we invest efforts to assist.
Students returned to school in August, with our Partnership collecting donations of school supplies. Although volunteers were not permitted to work with students in the classrooms, we were able to help students plant the garden and engage in some outdoor classes around garden activities, harvesting and making salad, as well as Chef in the Garden experiences. The Partnership values and supports the school staff in a variety of ways – providing an evening meal for teachers during parent-conference night, gift cards for staff awards, and the residents at Beatitudes Campus wrote notes of thanks and encouragement to each staff member.
We are hopeful that volunteers will be able to return to tutoring students this spring – the need for remediation assistance is greater than ever due to learning loss during the stay-at-home period. We are currently rebuilding our volunteer team, and are reaching out for new members. If you are interested in helping students an hour or two a week, we would love to have you! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Inadequate resourcing for public education in Arizona is a long term, chronic condition, and it will require our continued, persistent efforts to convince the executive and legislative branches of our state government to change the system. Our UUCP Civic Engagement Team often highlights ways in which you can voice your opinion and get involved. Keep an eye out for those opportunities during the year. Children and schools need our support.