During the pandemic, numerous community organizations and volunteers are continuing to find ways to help students and staff across the Shawnee Mission School District.
From food items to school supplies and hygiene resources, there are numerous examples of how they are working in partnership with staff members to help provide support.
Sometimes it is through material items, and other times through phone calls, notes, signs, and words of encouragement. Community partners are encouraged to work with local school staff to brainstorm ways they can contribute and provide support in the most helpful way, Dr. John McKinney, director of student and family services said.
Those interested in connecting to provide support to a school community are encouraged to contact an individual school social worker or administrator. Families who are displaced or homeless are encouraged to contact Shawnee Mission’s McKinney-Vento Liaison, David Aramovich.
Acknowledging needs will likely increase, McKinney emphasized that “community partnerships and volunteers are vital to our schools.”
Here are just a few examples of the ways community partners are providing support in the SMSD:
o Harvesters provides Backsnacks in many schools across the district, which provides food resources for children.
o Renewed Hope Food Pantry donated fresh fruit and hygiene items for students and families in need.
o At John Diemer, volunteers from Christ Church, who typically serve as volunteers have found a new way to connect. They provided more than 120 backpacks for Diemer students. They also created a Diemer Dream Cart, providing snacks and drinks on Friday afternoon. One day they provided boxed lunches for every staff member in the school.
o ApacheIS received school supplies from Church of the Resurrection and received a donation of recess tubs and a mask donation from Redeemer Fellowship Church.
o Santa Fe Trail has received help from local churches, Nall Avenue Baptist Church and Asbury United Methodist. In addition to ongoing partnership and support, they have donated school supplies and are planning to support holiday food baskets later this year.
o Prior to the start of school, Nieman and Comanche received mask donations from the Johnson County NAACP.
Wandra Minor, executive member of the Johnson County NAACP, delivered 600 masks to each of the elementary schools. Verasano, a company that supplies personal protective equipment, donated the masks to the organization, encouraging them to hand them out to places in the community that needed them.
“We were very happy to share these masks with them as they opened their doors dung COVID-19,” Minor said. “It was our way of giving back to the community and help the teachers, social workers, and staff get started off to a safe and healthy school year.”
New City Church, a community partner that connected through Caring for Kids, also provided a donation, and another Caring for Kids connection provided 500 homemade masks to Nieman Elementary. The masks are very appreciated, especially at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet, Jennifer Korn, social worker said.
“We are truly grateful for our community’s support,” Korn said. “One of our main goals is keeping our students and staff healthy and safe. These masks will help to ensure we’re meeting mask requirement guidelines.”
“Our families are always so appreciative of the support that comes from our community,” Korn said.
“We encourage any interested organization with individuals wanting to contribute to reach out to individual schools community principals and social workers first,” McKinney noted. “This helps ensure each school’s specific needs are being met.”