What do bamboo sporks, a weighted blanket, and an eight-by-ten area rug have in common?
They are among the many teacher-requested items that were donated to local public schools during the 2021-22 academic year through the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation’s (RAMCF) Wishing Well… for Maui Students program.
Area rugs, blankets, and wooden utensils may not be your run-of-the-mill school supplies, but they serve a purpose: The weighted blanket is used to soothe students with special needs, the area rug softens a Molokai classroom, and the reusable sporks reduced plastic waste at a recent student sustainability conference.
Since its inception in 2007, the Wishing Well program has donated countless goods, supplies and services to public schools countywide. Run by volunteer RAM members and fueled by the generosity of the community, the program covers every public school on Maui, Molokai and Lanai, along with Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, a nonprofit that shelters students in different grade levels at its Wailuku and Lahaina facilities.
Each school has a volunteer Wishing Well coordinator (and in some cases, a pair of coordinators) who collects and distributes donated materials year-round. The RAM member coordinators include Traci Bean, Michelle Bosque, Erin Clapper, Michele Crozier, Sue DeLoria, Kim Delmore, Penni Egger, Gloria Ezera, Jill Kaiser, Paula Kobayashi, Jeannie Kong-Evarts, Mechelle Lindsey, Rosalind Link, Kris Musto, Jane Ng, Suni Novotny, Kay Okamoto, Barb Potts, Anna Revilla, Sharon Robinson, and the program’s founder, Sarah Sorenson.
The back-to-school shopping season is right around the corner and students in all grade levels will need basic supplies like pencils, paper and notebooks. Unfortunately, many parents can’t afford these items and students often go without. Their teachers routinely step in to help: According to a recent U.S. Department of Education survey, more than 90 percent of teachers reported spending their own money on classroom supplies without reimbursement.
You can help Wishing Well program continue to make a difference for students, teachers, and parents during the 2022-23 academic year. Whether it’s cash, school supplies or office equipment, every little bit helps. “Contributions will allow us to continue to assist our Maui County public school teachers and students year-round,” Sorenson said. “As my favorite author, Dr. Seuss, once said: ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.’ Caring about others can make a difference to so many.”
Most-wished-for items include office chairs, dry erase pens, glue sticks, binders, pencil boxes, composition books, three- and five-subject college-ruled notebooks, electric pencil sharpeners, and art supplies like construction paper, poster board paper, and paints.
Sorenson says she also receives requests for children’s books for readers at any level, which are particularly useful for special education, preschool and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.
And the No. 1 most-needed item? Rubber slippers. Throughout the school year, students often arrive on campus wearing broken slippers—or none at all. Others may lose or break theirs during the day and have no replacement. During the month of May alone, the Wishing Well program delivered more than 200 pairs of rubber slippers to local schools.
Other items like area rugs, flat-screen TVs, folding chairs, file cabinets, bookcases and storage units are also frequently requested, so if you need to offload any gently used office supplies or furniture, call (808) 283-3969 to schedule a pickup service.
To learn more about the Wishing Well program, visit www.ILoveMauiSchools.com or call Sorenson at (808) 283-3969. If you’re a Maui County public school teacher with a wish list for your classroom, contact Sorenson at (808) 283-3969.
The Maui News – June 10, 2022