WHITE SALMON — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the White Salmon Valley School District and the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation (WSVEF) have collaborated to provide food, household and hygiene items and school supplies to families facing difficult times. So far, needed items have been provided to more than 100 families, thanks to donations from local community members, and from grants from the United Way of the Columbia Gorge, the Joan Burchell Fund of the Gorge Community Foundation, and the Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health.

With the start of school and distance learning, a major priority has been to get school supplies such as pencils, pens, notebooks, art supplies, scientific calculators and headphones to children who otherwise could not afford them.

“Teachers and families kept asking for school supplies,” said Michelle Ward, health and wellness coordinator for the school district. “I contacted the secretaries at all our district schools and we worked with teachers and families to compile a list of most-needed items.”

After creating this list, WSVEF staff reached out to local businesses for help sourcing items.

“We felt it was really important to buy locally, and keep the money in our Gorge communities,” said Amanda Lawrence, executive director of the Education Foundation. “Our local businesses consistently support us with donations and in-kind support. We believe it’s important to buy locally whenever we can to support them as well, and that is especially important during this time.”

The bulk of the school supplies were bought through Hood River Stationers, who provided a discount. Some tech items, such as headphones, were bought through Staples in The Dalles, which also provided discounted pricing.

Ward is leading efforts to provide school supplies to families, and had this story to share:

“A local mom was telling me that her child has a sensory processing disorder and is really sensitive to sounds and textures. The family lives where there is current construction going on, and the noise has been affecting the child and her online school work. I told them I had some noise canceling headphones that I would love to give them. The little girl was so excited and her Mom was a little teary and kept thanking me and saying that those are so expensive, and she was wanting to get some but couldn’t afford them.”

Families who have students enrolled in the White Salmon public schools and need help with food, household/hygiene supplies and/or school supplies may contact Ward at michelle.ward@whitesalmonschools.org.

To donate to the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, visit www.wsvef.org or contact Amanda Lawrence at amanda@wsvef.org.

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