‘The most beautiful thing’: Mom organizes $13,000 school supply donation

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Three weeks of collecting, organizing and communicating culminated into a major delivery day at Buchanan Elementary School.

Audrey Wendt and a team of volunteers on Friday delivered more than $13,000 worth of school supplies.

It all started with a restless night of sleep, an Amazon wish list and a Facebook post.

A month ago, Wendt said, her son’s kindergarten teacher asked for additional supplies now that the kids can’t share in the classroom due to COVID-19. Wendt and the other parents had no issue picking up a few extra items to make sure their kids have what they need, but her mind quickly turned to families that are struggling financially.

“That night I could not sleep,” Wendt told News 8 earlier this month. “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 called Buchanan Elementary School in Grand Rapids because she knows a couple of teachers that used to work there and that the district serves a lot of low-income families. She asked the kindergarten teachers what they needed for their classrooms, set up an Amazon wish list and shared it with her Facebook friends.

Within two days, she had $3,000 worth of supplies. After one week, it was over $6,000. Three weeks later, more than $13,000 worth of supplies, Amazon boxes and receipts have gone from the doorstep to her living room and now to Buchanan Elementary.

“To see other children that maybe don’t have the same things we do broke my heart, but the fact that our community cares about that and wanted to change that just blows me away,” Wendt said. “I got the joy of watching this happen. I have cried a lot of tears. Each night I look through the hundreds of Amazon receipts. … People would write their well-wishes to the school. And I would just read that at night and cry because it’s the most beautiful thing.”

Principal Adam Gutierrez was at the school to thank Audrey and her husband Jon in person.

“These are donations that will truly make a difference,” Gutierrez said. “Audrey and Jon’s willingness to create this project speaks volumes to their character and the impact they wish to have within our community.”

Wendt still has a few fourth- and fifth-grade wish lists to complete. She is reaching out to local churches to help tackle those. You can also donate through her Amazon wish list.

Wendt is also encouraging others to take up the charge and start supply drives of their own to support your local schools.

*Correction: While the text of this story was always accurate, an earlier version included a headline that listed an incorrect dollar amount associated with the donation. We regret the mistake, which has been fixed.