We’ve all heard the grim statistics on education. 50% dropout rates of kids in urban public schools. 9th graders reading at a 5th grade level. And in the face of those chill winds, state budgets are being slashed, class sizes increased, programs cut, and teachers furloughed.
Personally, all this makes me feel like sticking my head in the sand (or a margarita). But luckily for the children in Charleston, South Carolina, it only makes people like John Caspian and Jana Hodge feel even more fired up about doing something to fix it. And this morning, they’re proving it with the 1st Annual Krispy Kreme SideWalk Chalk 5 K Donut Run. Running for donuts – now that’s the kind of fundraiser I’ve been waiting for!
SideWalk Chalk is a group of 60+ volunteers who spend 2 hours every week helping 600 students in Charleston County elementary and middle schools to write, draw and discover their own unique voices. Each volunteer works with a small group of students- the same kids every week – to give those students individual attention and writing proficiency.
At the end of the year, SideWalk Chalk presents every child with a professionally published book that includes his or her stories. “3 months later, those kids will still be carrying the book around and asking everybody ‘Have you seen my story?’” says Caspian.”They are so proud of their work, they can’t wait to show it off – and we’re all about the high-fives.”
What do the volunteers get out of it? The chance to be part of something bigger than themselves. The joyful grins of kids who know they matter. The sense that instead of sitting on the sidelines bemoaning school conditions, they’re on the front lines helping out kids (and overloaded teachers) who really need it.
100% of the funds raised at today’s Donut Run support SideWalk Chalk’s programs in the school – and summer camps with writing, photography, art and dance. So I’m chipping in my $100, even if there is no donut involved. And I’ll leave you with John Caspian’s words in response to a recent prediction of catastrophic cuts in South Carolina’s school budget.
“What we do is serious. It’s not a game. Or just a fun job. What we do has a city-wide purpose and an every-child hope. This morning, I’m excited to go to work. There’s so much to do.”
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