‘Homeroom Helpers’ project looking for help from community

Published 10:09 am Friday, September 10, 2010

Ohio River Bank is asking for some help to help others.

“Homeroom Helpers” is a project the bank has started to supply classrooms in Lawrence County with items to help them out during the year. Donations will be accepted at all Ohio River Bank locations through Sept. 30.

Items being collected include paper towels, Clorox wipes, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, Windex wipes, napkins, tissues, baby wipes, spray disinfectant and hand soap. Monetary donations are also accepted and can be used to purchase printer cartridges for the classrooms.

Jodi Rowe-Collins, bank president, said the bank usually does a project each year around Christmas time. In the past, they have helped organizations like domestic violence shelters and Mended Reed in Ironton.

“We pride ourselves on community service and giving back to the community,” Rowe-Collins said.

Some items on the list have also been requested by the schools in lists sent home to the parents, but in addition to regular school supplies, Rowe-Collins acknowledged that getting added items can be a hardship.

“So many families don’t have a lot of extra money to buy hand sanitizer and zip-lock baggies, so we wanted to help.”

Betsy Rawlins coordinated the project and learned about the supplies needed from her grandchildren and was surprised to know the schools weren’t always able to provide those things.

“The teachers are reaching in their own pockets and providing it themselves,” Rawlins said. “Why should the teachers have to do this? There’s something wrong with the system.”

Rowe-Collins said that while it is a hardship for one person to get all these items, if many people come together, it’s not as difficult.

“More people working together can provide a bigger splash,” she said. “This makes it easier on everybody.”

Trina Sowards, a second-grade teacher at Fairland East Elementary School, is thankful for people like Rowe-Collins, Rawlins and the rest of the bank staff who are taking on the project. Sowards said the classroom budget changes every year, but it has dwindled.

“This year, it was like, if you really, really don’t need anything, don’t order anything, but if you have to, then you can,” Sowards said, referring to the state administration.

While some teachers feel the pinch more than others, Sowards said that when a teacher can’t afford to go out and spend extra on the class, it hurts.

Sowards added that teachers aren’t in the education field for the money, but the salary can make it hard when the teacher also needs to get extra things for the classroom and the budget doesn’t have any extra.

“The whole district has tried to cut back on lots of ways,” Sowards said. “The district treasurer has done a great job helping us stay updated on what we’ve spent and what we have left. We cut our expenses last year, because we weren’t getting enough. We’ve had to. It’s districts everywhere.

“We’re having to crunch, everybody in schools and everybody in general,” Sowards said.