Gateway: Living

Spirit of Make A Difference Day spreads quickly throughout the peninsula

Four volunteer youngsters from Minter Creek and Discovery elementary schools proudly display their work in support of the Gig Harbor Altrusa Club’s Make A Difference project to collect school supplies for the then-impending opening of the school year at the Gig Harbor Boys and Girls Club weeks ago.
Four volunteer youngsters from Minter Creek and Discovery elementary schools proudly display their work in support of the Gig Harbor Altrusa Club’s Make A Difference project to collect school supplies for the then-impending opening of the school year at the Gig Harbor Boys and Girls Club weeks ago. Special to the Gateway

My plan to play this story much earlier ran afoul of discombobulations not worthy of description here.

My apologies to the dedicated, hard-working members and friends of the Altrusa of Gig Harbor, the Gig Harbor Boys and Girls Club, and the kids of Minter Creek and Discovery elementary schools who made such a success of this worthy program.

Altrusa’s Make A Difference Day Project’s is dedicated to “Make for Great Partnerships” in its community-supportive projects.

Sharon Baker, Altrusa president, explained, “When school starts, many parents have spent hundreds of dollars — if they have those kind of resources — providing their children with all the required supplies and equipment they need to succeed in their classrooms. If they don’t have the resources, what happens to their children’s school work? Is that the end of it?”

“Not at all!” says retired teacher Mary Anne Paeth, an Altrusa member. “Kids run out of paper, pencils and notebooks about January, just as classes and needs change. Then there are the kids who move into the district in October or November, and the school supply cupboards are bare.”

Paeth and her Altrusa colleagues approached the Cheney Branch of the Boys & Girls Club, with the proposition that they join forces on Make A Difference Day Oct. 28 to help collect enough school supplies to stock school supply closets at The Red Barn on the Key Peninsula and at the Boys & Girls Club.

Said Paeth: “To involve your kids in the effort so they Make A Difference for other kids who need a little help.”

Bernie Rhoades, Boys & Girls Club executive director, and Jennifer Davide, its program director, thought it was a great project for their teen and preteen kids to learn about Making a Difference by volunteering and having some fun at the same time.

“First came the signs,” said Baker, “a project for Boys & Girls Club members Minter Creek Elementary School fifth-grader Sidney Beck and Discovery Elementary School’s Gabriella Sciattara, Samantha Sonnier and Sean Tate, all participants in the Boys & Girls Club afterschool program who set up a sign painting station and put their signs on bins to go about town.

“While none of the sign painters had ever heard of Make A Difference Day,” said Baker, “they all thought it was a great idea.”

“Making a Difference means changing the world,” said 9-year-old Sean Tate, who declared he will change the world when he grows up. “I’m going to be a scientist!”

Gabriella Sciattara believes “Make A Difference is helping others, like making sure they have pencils and paper.”

Sidney Beck thinks “Making a Difference means changing something that is not changed and doing something that is good for the environment.”

Samantha Sonnier agrees, and has different plans for her day to make a difference.

“Cleaning trash off the ground so animals don’t eat it,” she says. Animals are very important to her and she wants to grow up to protect them.

Baker said the next task was finding convenient sites with stocks of supplies people could purchase and donate.

“Rite Aid on Point Fosdick was first in thanks to longtime Altrusan Pat Jones, who has worked there for nearly 20 years,” said Baker.

Baker called a neighbor who knew the owners of Costless Pharmacy at Lake Kathryn, which joined the effort.

“Neighbors and friends of Altrusa members worked at Safeway on Pt. Fosdick and convenient locations willing to collect school supplies and Make A Difference,” she added.

The Boys & Girls Club which co-sponsored the event set up a donation station at its front desk which accepted donations all month.

Baker commented that, “We were able to fill the School Supply Closet for the Red Barn and provide some items to The Boys and Girls Club of Gig Harbor. In addition we have $450 in reserve for later this year or next school year. Making a difference for our kids makes a lot of friends in our community. Big ones and little ones! And that’s the truth!”

It sure is!

For more info, contact Baker at claybaby46@gmail.com.

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at hughmcm26@gmail.com.

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