Alsea, along with many other communities, is recovering from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Rising costs of gas, goods, and housing have made the basic needs much harder to meet for many individuals and families. Because lessening family stressors allows families to place more focus on their students and their education, Alsea School District is creating solutions to support families. All of this adds up to a better educational experience for everybody involved.
To ensure that all Alsea students started the 22-23 school year well equipped for success in learning, Sara Littlefield, Coordinator of the Alsea School Family Outreach, partnered with Vina Moses Thrift Store of Corvallis to help meet the needs of Alsea School families. The goal of Vina Moses Center is to “provide relief and build resilience in Benton Counties underserved communities.” The Vina Moses Center has been running its Back-to-School program from their income dependent no cost community thrift shop on Garfield Ave. in Corvallis for nearly 30 years, with a history of clothing distribution going back to World War 1 (for more information, visit https://www.vinamoses.org/ ). The Back-to-School program provides new and gently used clothing, backpacks, school supplies and a $30 gift certificate for families to purchase each student a pair of shoes.
Because of the chronic transportation challenges for folks living in isolated areas, Vina Moses hasn’t had quite the turn out at their Back-To-School events that they would like to see from rural communities such as Alsea. During 2021, the center had 21 program applicants from Alsea, but only three of the applicants attended. This year, Vina Moses and Alsea School District decided to bring the Back-To-School program directly to Alsea.
Vina Moses volunteers delivered enough back to school goods for 50 children. Vina Moses staff unloaded the donations, and a crew of Alsea High School students enrolled in the Alsea Summer Workforce Program spent a day setting up racks on the stage, sorting and hanging clothing, and making signs to guide those who came to the event. (For more information on the summer work program see: https://alsea.k12.or.us/2022/10/19/amazing-summers-at-alsea-school/.)The event was lightly advertised on Facebook and the school website while flyers were posted around town.
Sara Littlefield had no idea what community response might be when the event started at 3pm on Thursday, August 11. First one small family made their way to the stage, then one family after another. By the time the event ended long past the scheduled end time of 7 pm in total 18 families with 38 children received back to school supplies and clothing.
Thanks to the hard work and resourcefulness of Sara Littlefield, the Back-to-School Programs pilot year at Alsea School was a remarkable success and the start of a new tradition. Partnering with Vina Moses, the hope is to double the size of the popup shop next fall. Huge thanks to everyone who helped out with the event and to Vina Moses for supplying and delivering the back-to-school goods for Alsea families.
Families or students can contact Sara Littlefield for assistance in any area of student or family support at email@example.com or 541-487-5664. You can also find her at her office by the front door of the school. “I believe in community, and I believe that by supporting families we can bring our community closer together,” says Sara. She also made an ask for donations to the Family Outreach, specifically new and gently used sneakers and socks of all sizes. Due to limited storage, please call before bringing any other donations at this time. Monetary donations as well as gas cards, grocery cards, etc., are always welcome. Look for an upcoming article with more information about Alsea School Family Outreach.