Miss College Park supplies help for Hollywood Elementary students
Pageant winner hopes to make donation drive an annual tradition
Not every student was prepared for the first day at Hollywood Elementary School in College Park, said principal Barbara Caskey. It was often through no fault of their own, as some families just couldn't afford new school supplies, she said.
Help arrived Friday for many of the school's 450 students, as the school received about 10 boxes and bags full of pencils, crayons, notebooks, backpacks and other items as a gift from the Miss College Park pageant program and College Park American Legion Post 217. The supplies were gathered during a donation drive that started in July.
"I'm trying to make it an annual thing," said 18-year-old Devin Fendlay, a University of Maryland, College Park, freshman who was named Miss College Park in April. "They said a lot of students are having trouble getting supplies, so it's really big if the community can help them."
Fendlay organized the drive, following in the footsteps of 2009 pageant winner Elise Pittman who directed a similar effort last year to deliver supplies to Hollywood and Beltsville Academy.
A study released in July by Columbus, Ohio-based bank Huntington Bancshares Inc. found that elementary school-recommended supplies like pens, pencils, backpacks and folders cost an average of $109 per child, not including fees for field trips and musical instruments, which can exceed $300.
Caskey said there are parents each year who have one or more children at Hollywood and struggle to pay for their supplies. She said the need has increased in the past couple of years due to the economic downturn.
"Some of the new parents don't realize that we'll give [supplies] to them," Caskey said, adding that Friday's donation would be a "huge help" to the school. "I had a mother call last week and say, Should I go to one of the churches for help?' I said, Oh no, just bring your child in with a note and the counselor will help.'"
Hollywood responded to e-mails soliciting assistance this year, and Fendlay and volunteers from the American Legion post donated goods and used monetary donations to shop for supplies. Fendlay hand-delivered the supplies Friday, along with her mother, Frances Fendlay, and pageant director Angie Rodriguez.
"I didn't expect this much at all," said Devin Fendlay. "We got a lot from the members at the legion and just people in the community dropping it off. Hopefully it'll get bigger every year."
Rodriguez, who also serves as vice president and treasurer of American Legion Post 217's auxiliary, said volunteers are still accepting donations until Oct. 1. In addition to traditional school supplies, they are also accepting hypoallergenic wipes.
"If there's anyone who's still interested in making donations, we will take them," Rodriguez said. "We kind of want to make this a little tradition of community service."
Donations can be dropped off from noon to 10 p.m. at American Legion Post 217, located at 9218 Baltimore Ave. in College Park.