Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The African Violet Foundation in Fairfield hosted a Chamber Member Mixer Thursday afternoon, where the public got to explore its boutique on B Street and meet members of its board.
The event also coincided with the organization’s announcement of a successful fundraising campaign for elementary children so they can enjoy milk with their snack during the school day.
This milk during snack time is not covered by the Fairfield School district’s meal service. Jay Thompson, a district school counselor and a member of the AVF board, learned that not all children were getting milk during snack time.
“Teachers had milk for those who could afford it, and those who couldn’t afford it didn’t get any,” he said. “It’s not part of breakfast or lunch, so if you don’t pay for the milk, you don’t get the milk.”
Thompson said this disparity pulled at his heartstrings and the other members of the AVF board. They decided to conduct a special fundraising campaign to ensure that all elementary school students could have milk during snack time.
The African Violet Foundation was founded by Staci and Roger Wright in 2006 to serve middle and high school students in southeast Iowa, and now reaches three school districts: Fairfield, Pekin and Van Buren. It provides gifts such as hooded sweatshirts for students at Christmastime, and in recent years has hosted a clothing drive the day after Thanksgiving. The foundation was named in honor of Staci’s grandparents, John and Ava Topping. Though the family had little money, Ava was well known for sending African violets to those in need, a way of letting others know she cared for them.
Thompson said that fundraising for kids to have milk is a bit outside the foundation’s purview, which is mostly geared to providing clothing for those in need. However, the board members felt someone needed to step up and fill this need of kids going without milk.
“One thing we know for certain is that kids who have full bellies are better learners,” Thompson said. “When their needs are being met, they’re better learners. One teacher, who wants to remain anonymous, asked me if there was a way for us to get milk to these kids. I approached Staci and the board and asked for a separate line item from our normal funding for school needs, and they said, ‘Go for it.’ I approached donors for additional money, specifically for this project.”
Thompson said he began fundraising for milk last school year. At first, the program covered students at Pence Elementary School, and has since expanded to include students at Washington Elementary School, too.
As of Friday, the African Violet Foundation had raised $3,220, which is enough to fund milk for elementary students through Thanksgiving (216 milk tickets at Pence and 116 milk tickets at Washington). After that, AVF will turn the program over to the school district. Thompson said that will streamline the process, since the district is the entity purchasing the milk.
“I’m still going to run it, but the district will accept donations, which would still be tax-deductible,” Thompson said. “People can donate to Washington, Pence or the A.C.T. Building if they want to. They’ll put on their check’s memo line that it’s for the ‘milk fund.’”
Thompson said the district’s parent-teacher organization has gotten on board and is supportive of the program. He said that, the more people who join and donate, the longer the district can provide milk for hungry kids.
“I had a kid in my office today who was excited to have her milk,” he said. “I just know that milk was one of the tickets purchased through this program.”
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org