Grout students benefit from backpack bonanza

As school gets underway, see another way companies are helping Southeast Portland students get off to a better start this year …

Fifth-graders Jade Ramsey and Sierra Parsons are getting their backpacks from Susan McElroy, Principal of Grout Elementary School, and Kip Larson, representing his employer, Concero, as well as the Brooklyn Action Corps, of which he is Secretary.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not all Southeast Portland students come from well-to-do families; 67 percent of kids enrolled at Grout Elementary School on Holgate Boulevard qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

But area businesses, working with Schoolhouse Supplies’ “Tools for Schools” program, helps all students in the school by providing them with a backpack, filled with pencils, paper and other supplies.

Teacher Donna Zimbro, and her first grade class at Grout Elementary School, look delighted with their new backpacks, filled with school supplies.

“For a community like ours,” says the school’s principal, Susan McElroy, “a lot of families live below the poverty line. To spend up to $100 to equip a child for school is beyond their means. When you tell parents this is taken care of, I’ve had them burst into tears of joy.”

Students cheer as curtains open
As the assembly gets underway on September 7, the kids have a hard time settling down. These young students know they’re about to get a brand new backpack.

As the curtains on the school’s auditorium stage opens, revealing the treasure trove of backpacks, the young students cheer. Class by class, they line up and accept their pack.

Grout’s Principal, Susan McElroy, thanks sponsors who provided the backpacks for her students.

Many students leave hand-made thank-you notes on the stage. “Our kids are really thankful that people have taken the time to give them just a little,” McElroy says.

Volunteers from Entrepreneurs Foundation of the Northwest handed out the backpacks – sponsored by Radio Cab, Barco-Medical, Concero Technology, Fahey Ventures LLC, Hepieric Inc., Sabrix and TripWire.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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