Employees from the Veterans Affairs Southern Nevada Healthcare System recently donated more than 300 backpacks filled with school supplies to disadvantaged children in Las Vegas.
A truckload of the donated goods was transferred from the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center to Whitney Elementary School, where up to 75 percent of the children are at risk of homelessness.
The drive was organized by the VASNHS Employee Engagement Committee at the recommendation of staff member Melissa Smith-Adeboi, a licensed practical nurse, who had met the school’s principal, Sherrie Gahn, while supporting community service projects with her church. The employee engagement committee promoted the drive, collected donations, and coordinated storage, transportation and delivery. “Within the first day of putting out the announcement to our VA employees, we had collected 70 backpacks,” Smith-Adeboi said. “It was an amazing response.”
Each donated backpack included an entire school years’ worth of grade-specific supplies for a child. This was the first time Whitney Elementary has received such a large donation of school supplies from an outside organization, and according to Gahn, they are going to a great cause. “For us, it gives the kids a level playing field,” Gahn said. “It gives them a step up for their first day of school, and it makes them feel important, like they are every other child and that they don’t have to go without. What’s really important is that these kids have enough supplies to last them throughout the year. We have 100 percent free or reduced lunch, and most of our kids live in hotels or motels along Boulder highway, so they don’t always have the advantage of buying a backpack or receive the school supplies list that is sent in the mail by the elementary schools.”
“We just have some amazing employees who just want to give their heart,” Smith-Adeboi said. “We are truly blessed by their generosity and their giving spirit.”