Montclarions Put Oakland Schools First

Community action has reached the hills!  Lately, concerned Montclarions have begun “good works” under the Montclair Community Action Group banner, and everyone is welcome to join them.  Their first efforts are focused on working with Oakland public schools, as the most practical way to reach and help disadvantaged kids citywide.

Oakland School Supply

Donate Supplies For School Kids

The group’s inaugural effort, a School Supply Drive, will be held this Sunday, August 23rd.  You may drop off new school supplies or donate money at the Farmers Market, from 9am – 11am; or the Montclair Cultural Arts Center (aka Women’s Club, on Mountain Blvd), from 11am – 2pm.

Organizer Claudia Huttner explained how this drive came about:

The idea came out of a simple desire to create a community service event that would make a difference for kids and provide an opportunity for volunteers to participate, even if they have very full lives and not much extra time.

Many of us are looking for ways to bring change to our community, and it doesn’t have to be monumental or complicated.  Every gesture counts.  School supplies are a basic need for kids and the cost can really add up.  Donating supplies to under-resourced schools takes a little of the economic burden off of already over-burdened households.

The requested supplies fit local student needs well, and include backpacks (any colors except red or blue), pencils, colored pencils, pens, pencil boxes, rulers, erasers, lined notebooks and glue sticks.

On a practical note, these items will be delivered through the Faith Network of the East Bay.  Huttner said this network is “already in the schools supporting kids and families.  They work with some 30 schools in the East Bay, primarily in Oakland, and have a distribution network in place.  The people at Faith Network have been terrific and very supportive.”

Everyone seems hopeful that Montclarions will step up and contribute during this Sunday’s push.  The group has already managed to collect several bags’ worth of supplies plus $550 in cash donations.  Huttner and her fellow volunteers hope this drive will become an annual event, so that disadvantaged kids get on a more level playing field.

Volunteer An Hour Or Two Weekly

Additionally the Montclair Community Action Group has announced a citywide Volunteer Faire for the schools, scheduled for Saturday, September 12th.  Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith will kick things off at 11am, at Oakland’s Main Library.  In a prepared statement, Smith declared that:

Strong schools arise not apart from the community, but spring from it through goodwill, hard work and unity of purpose. Volunteers play an essential role in not only filling gaps in the system, but in forging the essential bonds that allow school and community to grow in concert.

At this faire, potential volunteers may discuss and explore opportunities.  Risha Riley, of the Oakland School District’s Volunteer Office, will be on hand to represent volunteer gigs in all of the city schools.  There will also be representatives from Oakland libraries and at least 12 non-profits (see list), who support programs in our schools today.

Since the faire runs until 2pm Saturday, there should be enough time to consider roles such as teacher’s aide, library assistant, student mentor, financial literacy program participant, business & career coach, nutrition program participant, science coach, after school homework helper, playground monitor, or volunteer in school beautification, gardens and art projects.

Volunteering isn’t exactly a full-time occupation, you know.  Even if you only have an hour or two available weekly, the Oakland schools and students would benefit from your time.  According to organizer Carolyn Burd, “there’s an opportunity for everyone who may be interested in becoming a school volunteer.  Many of the organizations participating in the Faire have programs in under-served schools.”

It seems perfect, and we appreciate that Montclarions are doing the legwork.  All you have to do is show up, decide what looks interesting, and make a very minor commitment – and it’s guaranteed that some Oakland child will shine brighter from your attention.

More info:  Montclair Community Action GroupSchool Supply DriveVolunteer Faire