As schools remain closed, PTAs in Arlington have stepped up and offered support to local needy families in their school communities through the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a news report by ARLnow, the PTA at K.W. Barrett Elementary School has already gone through two rounds of grocery gift card distribution to families in need. In an email to the newsroom, Melanie Jones and Will Le, Barrett PTA representatives, said that they have distributed a total of $19,500 worth of grocery gift cards for Harris Teeter, Safeway, and Giant.
“In the first round (in early April), we distributed or mailed out $8,350 in $50 grocery gift cards (128 distributed; 39 mailed to families). In the second round (in early May), we distributed or mailed out $11,150 in $50 grocery gift cards (203 distributed; 20 mailed to families),” they said. The PTA has also distributed 25 school supply kits, paid from PTA funds totaling $1982.
The pair also said that the PTA has received a total of $25,235 in donations and gift card contributions from families and friends and through the One Pantry at a Time GoFundMe set up by Arlington teachers. Their goal is to do another gift card distribution in early to mid-June.
“Based on our past distribution (and with $5,735 and 40 gift cards to work with) we believe that another round of $50 grocery gift card distribution will require an additional $4,000 of donations,” the pair said.
Additional donations can be made to the PTA’s efforts through:
- PayPal to [email protected] (with the note “gift cards for Barrett families” and sent as friend and family)
- Venmo to @Melanie-Jones-10
- Givebutter, though donations here have a fee
- Gift cards donated to the Barrett PTA in $50 denominations.
While the Barrett parents’ plan to shift towards the distribution of groceries and other items of need rather than gift cards would require more volunteers and logistic support, Jones and Le said it would be less costly and let the PTA utilize their own funding.
Meanwhile, other schools have also been organizing similar efforts.
Abingdon Elementary School’s PTA has raised over $14,000 for rent relief to help 34 local families. Their goal is an additional $28,000 to help cover the families’ rent.
“We have heard that families are being threatened with eviction, despite the governor’s stay on evictions,” the PTA said on the donation page. “Our goal is to have rent covered for these families through June. We would like to provide rent relief for families as soon as possible. When you pledge to make a contribution, a volunteer will get in touch with you via email within 24 hours regarding details. Checks will be written directly to property managers or landlords.
According to Emily Vincent, the vice president for communication for the County Council of PTAs in Arlington, these PTAs are continuing on their missions to help their communities despite school being closed for the rest of the academic year. Such efforts are on top of Arlington Public Schools’ meal distribution program for families in need.
“Despite Arlington County’s wealth, a significant portion of our families experience economic difficulties,” Vincent noted in an emailed statement to ARLnow. “As of October 2019, 8,083 students (29% of the APS student body) qualified for free or reduced meals (FARM). Of those, 6,376 qualified for free meals, which means that their family is living on less than $36,000 a year.”
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