The School of Natural Resources' Community Engagement Committee members hauled in bag after bag stuffed full of coats, scarves, mittens, clothing, shoes and toiletries, and then handed Linda Kern, Clinton Elementary School’s family care coordinator, an envelope containing $1,730.
“You told me there wouldn’t be much,” Kern said to Dee Ebbeka, the committee’s instrumental member in leading the annual clothing drive.
“I didn’t think there was,” Ebbeka said, but a few last-minute donations from the School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Lincoln communities made all the difference.
Each year since 2007, the School of Natural Resources has collected warm winter clothing for the children at Clinton Elementary, where 95% of the students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches, and has collected cash, checks and gift cards for the school as well. Cash donations are used to purchase needed supplies that have run short or to buy food and gas cards for families when emergencies arise.
All of the donations are passed out to the elementary school students or their families based on need, and special holiday bags are given to the families just before winter break, Kern said.
“I know I say this every year, but the needs this year are even greater,” Kern said. “We started passing out coats and clothing in October.” And she doesn’t foresee that need dropping anytime soon as new students move into the school district weekly.
However, with the donations from the annual campus campaign, it’s helped every child at the school be warm and dry this winter.
In a thank you letter to the school, Kern wrote, “I happened across this quote by Pema Chödrön, and the power of her words is worth sharing:
‘Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present in the darkness of others. Compassion become real when we recognize our shared humanity.’
“That recognition of shared humanity is what makes you all so amazing. You give and ask for nothing in return except knowing you were part of making a parent, a child, a family feel valued and recognized — which is all any of us asks.”
Ebbeka, who has been a part of the Caring for Clinton campaign since its inception, said it has been great to see the donation drive transform over the years and to see its continued success.
“SNR again stepped up and showed amazing compassion for the Clinton families,” she said. “Thank you sincerely to everyone that donated.”