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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Mays students donate supplies

School bells will ring to dismiss students from class one final time at the end of the year. Children will anxiously board their transportation home with dreams of whiling their summer hours coloring with crayons and markers and perhaps practicing their cursive handwriting. But this is not often the case for children who come from underprivileged households.
To help meet the educational summer needs for underprivileged students in the Bryan Independent School District, the Texas A&M Business Student Council’s Project Mays is collecting school supplies and money to purchase them. The second annual event will benefit four of the 16 elementary schools in BISD, chosen for the high percentage reported students qualifying for free or reduced cost lunches.
According to the Free & Reduced Program Report, as of Feb. 15, Jones Elementary School has 94 percent of its 601 students, kindergarten through fifth grade, qualifying for free or reduced cost lunch. Elementary schools Milam, Neal and Kemp have 91-95 percent of students who qualify.
Because of this demonstrated need, the BSC began a supply drive on March 24 and will collect supplies and money donations until April 14. Donations can be made at the Crayon drop box in front of Wehner 113. It only takes$10 to buy one backpack. So far, Bryan Student Council has collected $14,000 in monetary donations through student and corporate sponsorship.
The organizers of the event, junior accounting major and Vice President of events Michael Kurt, senior finance major and Project Mays Committee Head Ross Willmann and senior marketing major and Committee Head Kyle Pope, said they want to draw attention to the poverty situation in Bryan. Though there is an appeal to purchasing supplies and adding a personal touch to the supplies donation, they encourage students to make monetary donations since the BSC will be able to purchase the school supplies for pennies on the dollar.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, student volunteers from Mays Business School and the BSC will stuff backpacks with the collected supplies to be presented to Jones Elementary April 18.
Volunteers will arrive at the Jones campus, 1400 Pecan Street, at 9 a.m. to unload supplies. In 30-minute rotations, volunteers will spend time with the students during their lunch periods. In the final 10 minutes of a shift, students will be served juice pops for dessert and given a backpack of supplies before they return to class.
Mary Walraven, the supervisor of special programs for BISD, said the BSC is meeting a substantial educational need for underprivileged students in Bryan.
“Some of these kids will have summer school, and all of them will be able to have pens, crayons and markers – even if it’s just doodling,” she said. “That helps because if you don’t pick up a pen or marker [as an elementary school student], then you lose skills.”
The motivation for the BSC student leaders is to encourage disadvantaged children to pursue education by providing the supplies necessary.
“The students that are in Bryan ISD, they’re kids who have all the potential in the world to go and receive a college education, to pursue their dreams,” Kurt said. “And a lot of them, they just don’t have those opportunities, unfortunately.
“Their families can’t provide for the simplest needs, and then I think that once they grow up and reality sets in, they get discouraged and they really just don’t have the resources to get where they want to get,” she said. “And we just want, if anything, to show them that there are people who have faith in them, people who care, and people who believe in the fact that they can be what they want to be and can get a college education.”
Long-term goals for the BSC’s partnership with BISD are to get more A&M students from Main Campus to participate in the school district and encourage all students to participate in the community.
“For me, the reason why I got involved is because I told Michael that if it has anything to do with Bryan ISD, then I’ll do it,” said Xakema Henderson, a junior finance major and media relations coordinator for BSC.
“I really want A&M students to go because I did HOSTS my freshman year for extra credit and then I ended up falling in love with Bryan ISD, and wanted to really do something about it. I’m hoping that students will go and they’ll have the same experience, and then they’ll want to volunteer in things like HOSTS and Junior Achievements and be more proactive in Bryan ISD.”
Walraven said she is excited about the impact Project Mays will have on the students in these underprivileged schools and praised the BSC for its contribution. “Anytime a group like the BCS comes in, to all of us, it’s a huge gift, a great treat, a surprise – it’s Christmas,” she said.

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