Big Walnut Bridges was launched last week, and a couple of student needs were quickly filled by community members.
“There is no need too big or too small,” said Megan Truax, who has served as the Big Walnut Local School District nurse for the past 10 years. “The assistance can really make a difference in a student’s learning.”
Big Walnut is the first community in Delaware County to be partners with the nonprofit organization Neighborhood Bridges. Truax and Julie Adams are the volunteer area directors.
“We have a lot of resources in Delaware County, but they may not specifically match our students’ needs,” Truax said. “On a daily basis, needs are not being met.”
Truax learned about Westerville-based Neighborhood Bridges from CEO Rick Bannister. In three years, Neighborhood Bridges has helped more than 35,175 children and families in 22 communities in Alabama and Ohio (including Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Hilliard, New Albany, Sycamore, Upper Arlington and Worthington), and serves up to 146,000 students.
“We are humbled and excited to include Big Walnut in our Gateway for Kindness,” Bannister said in a statement. “The response and excitement displayed from community leaders in the Big Walnut Schools and Sunbury communities have been truly inspiring. With this kind of collaborative relationship in Big Walnut, it is a shining example to demonstrate that kindness truly has no boundaries, and we look forward to offering our support to the Big Walnut Local Schools community.”
Here’s how it works: A student will tell their need to an advocate (a counselor or teacher), who will post the need on social media. Those who want to help can either donate the item or provide a donation to the advocate. This makes the request anonymous and legitimate, Bannister said.
For example, this was one of the recently-met needs, shared on Facebook and Twitter:
“Need size 3 shoes for 10-year-old-girl. We have a 10-year-old girl in need of crocs or croc-like shoes in size 3. Preferred in a neutral color (no pink or purple; no sparkles please).”
Neighborhood Bridges said donations can be dropped off in Sunbury at Big Walnut Local Schools Central Office, 110 Tippett Court; or at the BST&G Fire Station #350, 350 W. Cherry St.
“This is a daily campaign for kindness,” Bannister said. “Everything is solved quickly and locally. Suburban poverty is a growing problem.”
Bannister thanked Big Walnut Superintendent Angie Hamberg for her interest in partnering with Neighborhood Bridges.
“It’s rare to have that kind of buy-in,” Bannister said.
“We are excited by the response of the key stakeholders in the Big Walnut community who have come together for the purpose of engaging our entire community in addressing the health and wellness of our students and families,” Hamberg said, in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with Neighborhood Bridges in providing hope, access, opportunity, and inclusiveness for all of our students.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.