Thanks to Angela D'Amario for the story and photos about the ongoing Bears Care program that is helping needy students at Roswell North Elementary School. The 2nd Annual Bears Care Kickoff Classic is slated for next Friday, Oct. 11, according to the RNE PTA's Dads Club. Details here:
Since forming just one year ago, Bears Care has helped more than 100 kids in need at Roswell North Elementary School. The assistance program takes a personalized approach to providing food, clothing, shelter, technology, transportation, tutoring, bedding or anything else a child may need.
Bears Care was started by parents, Steve and Kristen Harding, after they noticed a significant number of children who attended RNE lacked basic necessities that any child would need to feel prepared to learn each day.
“We started Bears Care because we believe all children have a right to grow up happy with food in their bellies and a good place to sleep,” says Kristen Harding, co-founder of Bears Care. “Children shouldn’t have to deal with adult problems, so we wanted to help eliminate their stresses so they can get back to being kids. The students in need at the elementary school deserve a fair chance at success.”
After forming a nonprofit, the Hardings rallied other parents at school to get their support, donations and volunteer time. And their efforts have been successful. Several parents have joined in their efforts, along with the school principal, counselors, teachers, businesses and the Kiwanis Club of Historic Roswell (which donated money to fund weekend meals for students in need).
“I don’t know any other school with a program like Bears Care, and it’s made a huge difference at our school in just one year,” says Kindra Smith, principal at RNE. “Our kids are happier, healthier, and we now have a network of parents in place that help one another through hard times. They, in return, pay that generosity back by helping out around the school and volunteering. That’s what makes this program so special.”
Among the accomplishments:
- Provided 12 families with food over the summer so their kids wouldn’t go hungry without school meals; paid for medicine, glasses, lice treatments and transportation to doctor visits.
- Bears Care works to find families volunteer legal support in cases where housing owners may, otherwise, take an unfair approach to leasing and renting contracts. Bears Care fed 125 people last Easter, largely thanks to food donations from Honey Baked Ham; provided 42 children with holiday gifts; and treated 14 families to holiday meals.
- At the beginning of the school year, Bears Care successfully secured 50 backpacks donated by Staples – all filled with schools supplies. Bears Care asked each teacher for his/her school supplies list to best help fill the necessities. Bears Care also helped 15 children with their reading through an early intervention tutoring program.
- To make sure kids are warm and properly dressed, Bears Care provided 10 kids with winter jackets and clothes. For two kids who were sleeping on floors, Bears Care purchased new beds and linens for them.
- Just this month (September 2013), an RNE family’s home burned down because of an electrical fire. The family lost everything. Bears Care quickly organized teachers, administrators and parents to get the family help and supplies, including food, clothing, toiletries, hair cuts and gift cards.
- More than 70 computers have been donated to give kids in need access to the internet and technology at home.
“We want families to know that there’s no judging,” says Harding. “We realize, at any point in time, we could be the ones in need of help. And we see through the people we help the impact of someone caring about them.”
With just one year of making a difference behind the nonprofit, Bears Care has already raised more than $7,000, all from single-family private donations and the annual dads-versus-teachers football game.
The entire Bears Care network is actively seeking help from other parents and members of the community to help more kids. If you would like to donate money, goods or your time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.