Contact: Beth Giles, 608-890-3091, [email protected]
MADISON – Wisconsinites and UW alums gave time, money and school supplies to support Milwaukee-area school children last Wednesday during UW-Madison Day at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Outside the fair’s gates, volunteers collected 125 55-gallon bags of school supplies for Milwaukee Public Schools students, almost three times the amount received last year.
Fairgoers also donated about $5,480 in cash to the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA), which will be turned over to MPS. Those donating cash or supplies received a discount on admission to State Fair Park.
“We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Milwaukee community and UW alumni and their dedication to making sure that students have what they need to be successful,” says Beth Giles, director of professional learning for the Office of Education Outreach and Partnership in the UW-Madison School of Education.
Giles, who facilitated the student supply drive, says volunteers were so touched by the generosity that they were often in tears as they loaded the supplies onto the Milwaukee Public Schools’ truck at the end of the day. The supplies will be distributed to students in need.
Many of the UW volunteers collecting supplies came from WAA. Vicki Volp, who graduated in 1975 with a degree in nursing, was a first-year volunteer collecting school supplies at the gates.
“The rewards of volunteering are incredible and sometimes it’s just hard to describe it. The ability to give back means a lot,” Volp says. “It just gives you an incredible satisfaction.”
Kaye Michaels, a university alumna who graduated in 1974 with a degree in education, has helped collect supplies at the fair for three years and also donated some.
“Being an ex-teacher, I have a lot of supplies that I’ve collected through the years,” Michaels says. “It’s a good way to give back.”
Alumnus Dan Stromen, who graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, attended UW-Madison Day because his son will be attending the university and brought with him a backpack filled with notebooks and pencils.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Stromen says. “If they had a food drive, I would have brought food. If they had a clothing drive, I would have brought clothing, because it’s just – you’re helping someone out.”
Jason Schepker, a Greenfield resident whose brother attends UW-Madison, says he donated because it was a “little thing we can do to help out.”
-Sean Kirkby, [email protected]