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Midvale Journal

United Way Day of Caring Paired Business with East Midvale to Assist in School Projects

Sep 29, 2016 04:34PM ● By Julie Slama

Penna Powers employees volunteered to make literacy kits for East Midvale Elementary school children during this year’s United Way’s Day of Caring. (Julie Slama/My City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Early in this school year, about 40 employees from the marketing firm, Penna Powers, teamed up with East Midvale Elementary to help prepare literacy kits, sort clothing from a clothing drive, help paint school walls and windows and other projects as part of the United Way Day of Caring.

“We look at what our needs are and it’s wonderful that people want to give us extra hands to provide something for our kids,” said Shelley McCall, East Midvale Elementary community school facilitator. 

On Aug. 31, United Way’s Day of Caring, some volunteers helped sort clothing into appropriate sizes for each gender, which McCall planned to have available for the 600 students at the Title I school’s back-to-school night that same evening.

“Some of our families need a helping hand, so we have items available where they can pick up clothes or hygiene kits when they learn about the school and parents can meet the students’ teachers,” she said.

Other volunteers were assembling literacy packets, which included a card to keep track of student’s reading, flashcards, a book and bookmark, a pencil and more.  Penna Powers made the flashcards, bookmarks and donated the pencils.

“We’re focusing on literacy and getting our literacy rate higher so we thought if we could provide something for the kids to take home, including a book, and parents learn the importance of reading out loud, we’re making a step in the right direction,” she said.

Other volunteers were painting — restriping the walls through the halls and gym — and painting a mural on the windows near the community garden.

Dave Smith, a managing partner of Penna Powers, said he has helped with United Way for the past 12 years and the past two, has asked employees to help during their work day.    

“I believe in their mission and what they’re trying to do,” he said.  “We need to help kids get a great education.  They’re our future and we need to help them be successful in school so they can be successful in the future.”

Smith said it also has been beneficial to his employees.

“This has built unity amongst our employees.  We spend so much time on deadlines that this is allowing us to get to know each other better and build our company culture while doing something worthwhile,” he said.

Smith said four employees continued to help at another elementary school with a high population of refugees throughout the year tutoring last year.

Media director Marc Stryker was one of those volunteers.

“Four of us would go to the school weekly and help the third-grade teacher with reading, comprehension and vocabulary,” he said.” There was a big need as many of the parents were learning the language.  It was really rewarding to see the kids learn and improve.”

Senior Digital Media Planner Jennifer Whitaker also tutored the school children.

“To see the kids making progress week after week and read certain books they couldn’t before meant a lot and realizing the impact we helped make by just volunteering a few hours was incredible,” she said.

Katherine Toepke, who helped coordinate Penna Powers effort for the United Day of Caring, said that when she asked employees who wanted to help this year, it was overwhelming.

“Everyone said ‘yes,’” she said.  “It’s fun and rewarding.  Last year, we helped at the Midvale Crisis Center.  This year, it’s East Midvale Elementary.  We just want to help out where we can and it’s really great to be able to give back and make a difference.”