GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A mother from Grand Rapids is showing kindness and compassion can go a long way – even during a pandemic.
Audrey Wendt got an Amazon wish list from her son’s kindergarten teacher to help stock her classroom with supplies. That was taken care of within a couple of days, but Wendt says her thoughts quickly turned to other schools and other families who may not have the resources to collect extra supplies.
“That night I could not sleep,” Wendt said. “What do they do for these extra supplies? My son’s wish list was gone and done and taken care of, but if a teacher or a school needs fun things right now, what do they do?”
Wendt decided to launch an Amazon wish list of her own and settled on Buchanan Elementary on Grand Rapids’ southwest side. Wendt says she chose Buchanan because she knows teachers who used to work there and knows they serve a lot of lower-income families. So she called the school, talked to teachers and asked what they needed and put an Amazon wish list together.
She posted it to Facebook last Friday. Within 48 hours, she had already received $3,000 worth of supplies. And as of Friday, Oct. 9, more than $6,000. Wendt says she doesn’t even know half of the donors and is floored by the response.
“It just shows that one person can do a lot, but our community can do so much more,” Wendt said. “They gave to kids that they don’t know. They’re not going to see the children’s faces when they open these things. They just did it out of the goodness of their heart. And I just think that encapsulates Grand Rapids.”
Wendt says she is working with the school on a special delivery day when students return from virtual learning. The pandemic has made needs even more pronounced; not only are more families struggling financially, but everyday learning requires some changes.
“The need is so big right now because they all need individual things, when before they would have a big bucket of crayons. But now they need their own things,” Wendt said, talking about COVID-friendly classroom practices.
Wendt is encouraging other people in West Michigan to keep the giving going. You can donate to Wendt’s wish list or contact a local school and set up an Amazon wish list of your own that can be sent directly to the school.
Buchanan Elementary is holding its own fundraiser to buy a book vending machine, which allows students to earn points and buy books of their own. You can donate for that purchase here: donorschoose.org/