Keep Eyes on the Prize: School Supplies
More than 25 volunteers showed up at the Park Building to fill sturdy canvas bags with a full set of school supplies for the upcoming school year.
"Every year, the West Lanham Hills Citizens' Association purchases the basic school supplies for the students in our community," said Board President Lan Tsubata. "Each student is equipped with the tools needed to start their academic year strong."
Sarah Tsubata, the Board Secretary, coordinated the gathering of registration forms, communication with families and the ordering and preparation of all the supplies.
"We prepared two types of kits, based on grade level. Pre-K up to 5th Graders got one kit; Middle and High Schoolers got another, with a few items like a calculator, highlighters and three ring binder," Sarah said. "Both age-level kits included notebooks, pencils, pens, paper, colored pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, folders, glue sticks.
To hold the many items, sturdy canvas tote bags were purchased that can be continually used for years, and are washable. "This year, many schools require see-through backpacks, but we wanted to use something reusable and sturdy for the student's general uses," said Sarah.
Volunteers of all ages lugged the boxes of supplies from the shed into the building, set up the assembly stations, and then put together the bags for each age level. Nearly 150 bags were prepared; some 130 had been requested through the pre-registration process.
Pizza and snacks fueled the volunteers' energy for the next stage of the operation. As families arrived, they signed in, and the volunteers delivered to them the appropriate bags of pre-filled items. "We had leftover supplies from previous years," explained Sarah, "So the families were invited to pick up additional items from that table."
Officers Nunez and Nguyen from the Prince George's County Community Police Officers in Hyattsville were on hand to greet the families, inform them about services, and distribute more items such as printed pencils, informational coloring books, and more safety information.
"This is a significant investment of money and time and labor for our Association each year," explained Lan Tsubata. "It's not only about providing the physical tools of learning; it's also a model of how success is built by helping each other. Kids see their neighbors, their parents, and their friends all working together to create a good result. They see that they are surrounded by a caring, hardworking community. They are welcomed into the world of learning with positive encouragement."
"We've all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, this is that village in action. We want every young person, and every parent, to know that they are part of a community of caring and resourceful people, investing in their success. They know they're not alone. They know that their parents and family, and their neighbors, are surrounding them."
"We will cheer for them when they graduate, and we will celebrate their career and family accomplishments as well."
Many of those who have received school supplies in past years were among the volunteers this year. "It's a cycle. They have been helped, so they're happy to help others. And that's a huge life lesson, right there," said Lan.
Many thanks to the Board and the volunteers who added their support to the distribution, especially Sarah and Kensei Tsubata, Lan Tsubata, Mie Smith, Monica Jimenez, Kate Tsubata and the following youth:
Brandon Martinez Salazar