United Way ‘Sponsor a Classroom’ program leads to more than $110,000 in retail value of donations 

United Way ‘Sponsor a Classroom’ program leads to more than $110,000 in retail value of donations 

By Cory Smith | on September 09, 2020

Staff members from Saranac Community Schools work together to collect gallons of hand sanitizer from United Way Montcalm-Ionia Counties through the organization’s “Sponsor a Classroom” program, which is now focused on obtaining personal protection equipment for local school districts due to the coronavirus pandemic. — Submitted photo

BELDING — Having temporarily shifted its focus away from standard school supplies and onto personal protection equipment (PPE), United Way Montcalm-Ionia Counties is doing its best to help keep the coronavirus pandemic from entering local schools. 

After several weeks of collecting and distributing donations, United Way Montcalm-Ionia Executive Director Terri Legg has been impressed and humbled by the amount of items it has received thus far. 

From 6,800 pounds of hand sanitizer donated by One-Ethanyl of Lowell, 20,000 face masks, more than 7,725 youth face masks, 20,000 face shields donated by InstaSheild of Palos Park, Ill., 100 spray bottles, 520 paper bags, 5,200 lanyards, 3,000 pairs of gloves and 46 digital no-touch thermometers, schools in both Montcalm and Ionia counties are now sitting in a better position today as many of them have welcomed back teachers and students for in-person learning. 

“The retail value of these items is a staggering $111,300,” Legg said. 

For local school officials, the donated items not only directly help the teachers and students in their classrooms, but help the school districts in regards to expenditures related to necessary PPE items. 

“On behalf of Belding Area Schools, I would like to say we are extremely thankful for the partnership we have with the United Way,” Superintendent Brent Noskey said. “The donation of all these supplies is just one more example of their generosity. The pandemic has created a great deal of added costs for our district.  This donation will help lessen future spending on PPE.”

United Way Montcalm-Ionia Counties Board President Dan Mitchell said the organization will continue its efforts to assist local school districts. 

“COVID-19 just added another layer to the struggles our educators face on a daily basis in creating a healthy, safe and positive environment for the students in our communities,” he said. “With school funding being cut even faster than costs are rising, it’s the instructional opportunities that suffer when there just isn’t enough money for daily classroom needs. The pandemic has again widened that funding gap as essential PPE is now a must at the top of the growing needs lists. Every invested dollar brings a classroom closer to a healthy educational environment and United Way multiplies those dollars as we support education together.”

According to Legg, United Way is still about $10,000 short of its $30,000 fundraising goal. 

To donate to Sponsor A Classroom online, visit liveunitedm-i.org/2020-sponsor-classroom or mail a check to United Way, 302 S. Bridge St., Suite 1, Belding, MI, 48809.

The United Way office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.