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August 2, 2013: Public Donations Needed for Unity In the Community School Supplies Drive

 

Spokane, Wash. – A small boy wearing shorts, tank top and flip-flops pushes his passport across the table and looks up at the man on the other side. The man picks up the booklet and fans through the pages.

“What grade are you going to be in this year?” the man asks the boy. His mother, who stands behind him, shifts her 6-month-old daughter to her hip so that she can stoop to whisper in her son’s ear, “First.”

 “First grade,” the boy shyly says to the man.

 “First grade!” the man says with a broad smile. “Did you learn a lot about other countries today?”

The boy nods his head up and down, up and down, and smiles back.

 “Well, here you go, your first-grade supplies,” the man says, handing a bag to the boy.

 “What do you say?” the mother says.

 “Thank you,” the boy says and quickly turns to walk away and explore the bag’s contents.

The man, Mark Beattie of Spokane, watches the mother and son pull crayons, a ruler, pencils, glue and other school supplies out of the bag, one item at a time, commenting as they go. The mother glances back over her shoulder, giving Beattie a look of gratitude. He smiles and waves, then greets another family standing before him, passports in hand.

These are no ordinary passports. They contain the names of dozens of countries and cultures represented at the Community Health Plan of Washington Cultural Village at the annual Unity In the Community at Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane, Wash.

 “Distributing school supplies is a key feature of Unity In the Community,” Beattie said. “School-age children, K-8, are able to travel through the Cultural Village to get their ‘passport’ stamped while learning about cultures and countries represented here in Spokane. They turn their passports in to receive their bags of supplies. Fun while learning!”

Beattie, Gonzaga University virtual campus student services director, has volunteered for more than a decade to collect and distribute school supplies at Unity In the Community. “Participating in Unity In the Community has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done,” Beattie said. “It really feels good to make a difference in our community, one child at a time.”

Two years ago, Beattie gathered donated funds and school supplies from area business and residents that provided bags for about 400 local children. Last year, about 1,000 bags were distributed at Unity In the Community, the region’s largest multicultural celebration. Beattie hopes to be able to provide the same amount this year.

According to the National Retail Federation, families spent an average of $688 last year on clothing and other back-to-school needs – an increase of nearly $80 from 2011. The cost per household will be greater this year, creating hardships for many Spokane-area families.

Spokane Teachers Credit Union, a Unity In the Community partner for many years, is participating in its second year as the corporate sponsor of the Unity In the Community School Supply Drive. Its branches collect school supplies, and provide volunteers and space for the monumental task of bagging supplies in the days before they are distributed to eager children. 

“With roots in education, it’s important to us at STCU that all students have the tools they need to be successful in school,” said STCU Community Relations Officer Elisabeth Hooker. “Last year, when the opportunity came up to support the supply distribution, it seemed like the perfect fit. In 2012, we were on hand to help distribute nearly 1,000 bags to families in need.”

All 16 area branches will have collection bins for STCU members and employees to donate school supplies and money. A portion of what is collected will be contributed to Unity In the Community, and the remainder will benefit schools and organizations near those branches.

Donation boxes will also be available through Aug. 11 at Carrington College main entrance, Community-Minded Enterprises-AHANA at 25 W Main, Dutch Bros. Coffee Spokane locations, Institute for Extended Learning’s Magnuson Building, Spokane Community College’s Lair Building in front of the Student Activities Office, Spokane Falls Community College in the Student Union Building in the Student Government Office, WSU Spokane in the Spokane Academic Center, West Corp. in downtown Spokane and Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake Library, all Spokane Library branches, and Bethel AME.

Beattie said the K-8 school supplies list includes pencil boxes, washable markers, blunt-end scissors, crayons, No. 2 pencils, glue sticks and 4 oz. bottles, spiral notebooks, pens, erasers, calculators, colored pencils, 12 in. rulers and composition books.

He’s looking forward to handing out bags full of school supplies to children at the 19th Annual Unity In the Community, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, at Riverfront Park.

 “I love seeing the children open their bags and begin to swap items with their siblings or friends,” Beattie said. “A red pencil for a blue ruler…it’s wonderful to see their excitement light up their faces. So many heartfelt thank-yous are heard that day.”

Beattie encourages families who need school supplies to arrive early, as they usually run out between noon and 1 p.m.

For more information about Unity In the Community, visit www.nwunity.org.

 

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Media Contact: Pat Spanjer, Unity In the Community Communications Committee Chair ž Phone: 509.951.0329 


July 25, 2013: Party Up On the Roof to Provide School Supplies for Local Kids

 

Spokane, Wash. – Every parent knows the unique emotion, the one you feel welling from your heart, melting one muscle after another from your head to your toes, bringing tears to your eyes, forcing you to smile, making you proud, and opening a world of possibilities.

 

It’s your child’s first day of school. Not just kindergarten, but every first day of school. Do the math. That’s expensive!

 

For thousands of families in the Spokane area, the annual supply list from their children’s schools brings with it an insurmountable financial burden. Help from the community is on its way. In fact, it’s coming to the rooftop of the Community Building at 25 W. Main Ave. in downtown Spokane.

 

If you who would like to help provide free school supplies for local children, you’re invited to party Up On the Roof – A Taste of Unity silent auction and raffle, 5:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. Now in its fifth year, the fundraiser will feature a variety of entertainment and a sampling of food and beverages provided by local restaurants. The silent auction and raffle will showcase some of the region’s most talented artists and local businesses. Admission is free; donations will be accepted at the door. All proceeds from Up On the Roof will go toward purchasing K-8 school supplies that will be given away at Unity In the Community, Aug. 17, 2013, at Riverfront Park.

 

“At last year’s Unity In the Community, we handed out school supplies to almost 900 children,” said Unity In the Community School Supplies Drive Chair Mark Beattie. “The need will be greater this year. We hope to distribute about 1,000 bags.”

 

Beattie, director of virtual campus student services at Gonzaga University, has been volunteering with Unity In the Community for more than a decade. “Distributing school supplies is a key feature of Unity In the Community,” he said. “School-age children travel through the event’sCommunity Health Plan of Washington Cultural Village, where they get their ‘passports’ stamped while learning about cultures and countries represented here in Spokane. They show us their stamped passports to receive their school supplies. Fun while learning!”

 

For more information about Up On the Roof, contact Traci Logan at Community-Minded Enterprises, 509.209.2625 or tracil@community-minded.org.

 

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Media Contact: Pat Spanjer, Unity In the Community Communications Committee Chair ž Phone: 509.951.0329  

 
July 22, 2013: Save the Date for Unity In the Community: Sharing Our World

 

Spokane, Wash. – Unity In the Community, the region’s largest multicultural celebration, will be “Sharing Our World,” 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane.

 

Now in its 19th year, Unity In the Community organizers expect attendance to exceed 10,000. Families will appreciate expanded fun and educational activities in the Youth Fair for all children, toddlers to teens.

 

Free and open to all ages, the event will showcase live entertainment on the UnitedHealthcare Main Stage under the historic clock tower, as well as a smaller stage to include a wide variety of cultures.

 

The Community Health Plan of Washington Cultural Village, a perennial favorite, will educate children and adults with a trip around the world via booths from dozens of represented countries and cultures.

 

The Amerigroup Health Fair will offer traditional and alternative approaches to health care, wellness and prevention with many interactive booths and demonstrations. The casual and inviting environment of the Career and Education Fair provides a perfect opportunity to gather information from many local employers and our area academic institutions.

 

Free school supplies will be distributed to more than 400 kindergarten through 8th-grade children who check in at every Cultural Village booth. In past years, the school supplies, bagged according to local requirement lists for K-8 students, go quickly, usually before 1 p.m. In order to fill the need and equip local children with the tools they need to succeed in school, event organizers are, asking community members to drop off school supplies at Carrington College main entrance, Community-Minded Enterprises-AHANA at 25 W Main, Dutch Bros. Coffee Spokane locations, Institute for Extended Learning’s Magnuson Building, Spokane Community College’s Lair Building in front of the Student Activities Office, Spokane Falls Community College in the Student Union Building in the Student Government Office, WSU Spokane in the Spokane Academic Center, West Corp. in downtown Spokane and Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake Library, all Spokane Library branches, Spokane Public Market and Bethel AME.

 

For more information about Unity In the Community, visit www.nwunity.org.

 

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Media Contact: Pat Spanjer, Unity In the Community Communications Committee Chair ž Phone: 509.951.0329