The Giving Index: East Lansing Public Schools

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Sunday, December 16, 2018, 7:31 am
Ann Kammerer

Consider the difference you can make by giving to the parent councils of your neighborhood schools. Every day, more than 3,600 students at East Lansing Public Schools benefit from donations of money and goods that address needs separate from the District’s budget. Many of those needs are identified by parent groups and councils in cooperation with school leadership. And many of those needs, some as basic as a winter coat or a daily snack, would go unmet without the generosity of East Lansing community.

“In general, the school budgets cover the absolute school necessities,” said Lisa Rutkowski, co-president of the District Parent Council and president of the East Lansing High School Parent Council. “We help cover those ‘it would be nice to have items,’ as well as personal needs related to a student or family that’s been identified by the school. There’s a larger need than a lot of people realize. And children aren’t going to learn if their basic needs aren’t met.”

Parent councils and associations in East Lansing schools operate as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and your donations are tax deductible. ELi asked parent volunteers throughout the district to identify areas where community giving could help ensure that no student goes without, and can get the most from their learning experience. Here’s what they said.

Donley Elementary

2961 E. Lake Lansing Road
Active Students: 283
Percent of free/reduced lunch students: 54.1
William Donley School Association

Many students at Donley Elementary need coats, mittens and boots for outdoor play and winter wear. Donations of clean, new or gently used outerwear can help. The William Donley School Association recently completed a school-wide fundraiser, with 100% of proceeds going to students to pay for field trips, enrichment activities, and school supplies.

How to donate

  • Drop off winter wear items at school office during open hours
  • Query the need for other general or monetary donations via the parent association email

Glencairn Elementary

939 N. Harrison Road—UNDER CONTRUCTION
Students currently attend Red Cedar Elementary at 1110 Narcissus Drive during construction
Active students: 315
Percent of free/reduced lunch students: 30.2
Glencairn Parent Teacher Organization
President Karin Polischuk

The Glencairn PTO expanded their budget to provide new boots and jackets for students in need. Healthy snacks are also provided so no child goes hungry. As temperatures drop, the biggest identified need for students continues to be gloves and mittens.

The PTO budget at Glencairn includes thousands of dollars each year for field trips and supports free educational and fun evening activities open to all families. Teachers receive funds for classroom items or supplies. Scholarships are provided for low-income students for any field trip, “Popcorn Fridays,” winter clothing, or other needs identified confidentially by school staff.

“We have a high number of international families and people who have moved here from other areas. Many are not familiar with Michigan winters and do not have the support network of friends and family who can hand down snow pants and boots,” said Glencairn PTO President Karin Polischuk. “It is nice that our school can help act as that network and provide the appropriate winter gear so children can safely enjoy outside play both at school and at home.”

How to donate

  • By donating needed items: drop off at school office (Red Cedar Elementary) during open hours
  • By credit card or PayPal: via or Glencairn PTO website
  • By check or cash: via member of Glencairn PTO

Marble Elementary

729 N. Hagadorn Road
Active students: 368
Percent of free/reduced lunch students: 30.4
Marble Parent Council
Secretary Tali Faris-Hylen

Marble’s parent volunteers work hard to raise money to help with teacher initiatives, student needs, classroom supplies, Marble T-shirts, and special events and assemblies. The Marble Parent Council hosts the annual Marble Carnival, movie nights, the Marble Muskrat Movement Mayhem (formerly Fun Run), a Spaghetti dinner and more.

The Marble Parent Council accepts snack donations for a Marble Snack pantry off-site, and for classroom snack closets. Donations are welcome for the “Cookie Jar Fund” that supports things like field trips, water bills, clothing, Thanksgiving food baskets, and more for students and families in need.

“Every donation matters and is meaningful,” said Tali Faris-Hylen, Marble Parent Council secretary and volunteer.

How to donate

Pinecrest Elementary

1811 Pinecrest Drive
Active students: 363
Free/reduced lunch students: 43 percent
Pinecrest Parent Council
President Todd Swales

Donations to the Pinecrest Parent Council fund council-coordinated events and provide funding towards classroom field trips to the Wharton Center, the 3rd grade Big Zoo lesson, 4th grade trip to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, and the 5th grade trip to Greenfield Village. It offers small grants of up to $1000 to teachers for additional classroom materials or hands-on learning experiences. The council reimburses teachers for up to $150 per classroom for materials, supplies, decorations, and furniture every year. It purchases books for every teacher and the library, as well as a book to each student. The Pinecrest Parent Council hosts special events throughout the school year including two book fairs, a color run, a STEAM activity night, a multicultural night, a dance, a science fair, and an end of the year school carnival.

How to donate:

  • By credit card; via the Pinecrest Parent Council website
  • By cash or check; send to Pinecrest Elementary or contact the Pinecrest Parent Council
  • By participating in other special events or promotions specified on the council’s website

Whitehills Elementary

621 Pebblebrook Lane
Active students: 316
Percent of free/reduced lunch students: 24.4
Whitehills School Association
President Joy Campbell

The Whitehills School Association supports students and teachers throughout the year through creative projects and fundraisers coordinated by parent volunteers. Donations fund everything from magazine subscriptions to the library, classroom or gym supplies, enrichment activities, field trip transportation, or support for various clubs.

The WSA also supports low-income students through the “Part of the Pack” program administered confidentially through the school social worker. About 16 students are “adopted” for the whole year and get a school T-shirt, yearbook, books from their book fair wish list, entry to the carnival and fall dance, and scholarships to attend field trips.

In October 2018, Whitehills Elementary launched a confidential, needs-based program funded through community donations. Jan’s Closet enriches students’ lives and decreases barriers that affect their ability to learn. Funds might be used to buy winter gear for a struggling family, purchase emergency food, or pay for a car repair to enable a family to get their child to and from school. Other uses might include providing a student with a pack of tickets to Potter Park Zoo or a children’s theatre event. The program is administered through the school social worker, principal and school staff, while the program’s financial account is administered by the WSA.

Donations of snacks for the classroom are always welcome since many families do not have the means to send their child to school with a snack each day.

How to donate

  • By credit card; via the Whitehills Schools Association website
  • By check, payable to Whitehills School Association; mail or drop off at school office. If you are donating to Jan’s Closet, include “Jan’s Closet” in the subject line.
  • By cash; via a Whitehills School Association member
  • By donating snacks; drop off at school office during open hours

MacDonald Middle School

1601 Burcham Drive
Active Students: 859
Percent of free/reduced lunch students: 31.7
MacDonald Middle School Parent Council
President Debbie Walton

The MacDonald Middle School Parent Council funds events throughout the year including student activity nights, the book fair, science and engineering fair, spirit wear sales, incoming sixth-grade night, and the eighth-grade celebration.

The group also supports teachers through luncheons, an appreciation week, and grants. Teachers can submit grant requests for classroom supplies, field trip costs, and resources for school clubs and activities. Examples of funded teacher grants include those for math competitions, field trips to the Holocaust Museum and the African-American History Museum, makeover of the teacher’s lounge, classroom equipment and tools, books for the special needs area, magazine subscriptions and books, and a physical education needs closet.

Parent volunteers work closely with school administration to confidentially provide seasonal gifts or essentials to a number of low-income students and families. The group helps fund turkey dinners at Thanksgiving and personal needs baskets for the winter holidays that includes toiletries, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, dental care items, fleece blankets, and other essentials. Parent volunteers assist with soliciting donations for winter gear, the school snack pantry, and the PE needs closet.

“We encourage people to give because our community only has one middle school,” says Debbie Walton, president of the MacDonald Middle School Parent Council. “The school brings together all the kids who have or will be growing up together. With 800 or so students, it’s a big hub for the community.”

How to donate

  • By cash or if donating snacks; drop off at school office or contact MacDonald Middle School Administration/Office Staff
  • By credit card or PayPal; via the MacDonald Parent Council website

East Lansing High School
509 Burcham Drive
Active Students: 1,100
Percent of free/reduced lunch students: 28.8
East Lansing High School Parent Council
President Lisa Rutkowski

The East Lansing High School Parent Council raises dollars to fund educational enhancements outside the school budget for teachers and students. Recent support includes purchasing equipment and devices like graphing calculators and projector document cameras, providing art supplies, funding travel expenses for class field trips, and books for specific or unique curriculum.

The council also works with school administration and counselors to help provide essentials and seasonal items for students and families in need. Donations are needed year-round to stock a student closet with items like teen-friendly, nonperishable snacks, as well as personal items like deodorant, toiletries, new socks, undergarments and winter gear. The council also helps fund larger needs as identified by the school counselor through an emergency needs fund.

“A student may receive free breakfast and lunch at school, but there are often hours that go in-between those two meals,” said Nicole Coss, counselor at the high school. “And even more time passes before they may have their evening meal. Donated snacks allow us to help meet that hunger need that students experience during those in-between times.”

How to donate

  • By donating snacks or items for the student closet; drop off at main office or contact East Lansing High School
  • By credit card or PayPal; via the ELHS Parent Council website
  • By cash; via a member of the ELHS Parent Council © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info