A small grassroots volunteer effort among employees at The Broadmoor hotel has experienced an influx of generosity this year.
A large pile of school supplies — enough to stuff 75 backpacks — has been taking up space at Wayne Hoskins’ house for the past few weeks.
“We really put an emphasis on it this year and purchased a bunch of backpacks and asked people to fill them,” said Hoskins, who worked as security director at The Broadmoor for 20 years before becoming special projects director. “We got support from across the staff.”
The drive was initiated three years ago by hotel staff whose children or grandchildren attend Harrison School District 2, where three-fourths of students are from low-income households, or by workers who have relatives who are teachers. The drive has grown from collecting a few boxes of supplies to this year’s whopping contributions.
Many employees don’t earn a lot of money, Hoskins said, but still gave a packet of pencils or crayons this year.
“Right now, people are just involved with kids and education,” Hoskins said. “It’s unbelievable how many backpacks we were able to pack full.”
Members of the hotel’s Cares Committee delivered the backpacks Wednesday to Sand Creek International Elementary School in southeast Colorado Springs. Teachers also received a calendar and information on a “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign.
“What’s special about this project is: It isn’t The Broadmoor as an organization, but a group of employees who led this effort because they saw the need to make sure our students and families have what they need,” said Sand Creek International Principal Rachel Laufer.
Different Harrison D-2 schools have benefited from the supplies each year.
As 540 students, kindergarten through fifth grade, return to classes at Sand Creek Thursday for the new academic year, those who don’t have school supplies will be first in line to receive the donations, Laufer said.
About $50 worth of supplies, plus the backpack, are included.
A new program from Harrison D-2’s new dual superintendents is providing district elementary and middle schools with free school supplies for this school year.
The initiative is using $231,000 from federal Title 1 funds to buy the supplies for every classroom, said D-2 spokeswoman Christine O’Brien. Donations, such as from community and business drives, will help schools spend fewer Title 1 dollars, Laufer said.
A districtwide needs assessment showed buying school supplies presented “a strain for a majority of students,” O’Brien said.
Several drives by local media and nonprofits also have been underway in recent weeks.
Another local business has supported another D-2 elementary school for eight years and will deliver its annual contribution Thursday.
This year’s 120 kindergartners at Centennial Elementary will get new backpacks and supplies from McDivitt Law Firm, which has five Colorado offices, including in Colorado Springs.
The money saved from not having to buy kindergarten supplies will be spent on field trips, extended learning and enrichment programs for students, said Centennial Principal Kim Noyes.
McDivitt Law Firm estimates it has donated $33,000 over the past eight years on the project, including this year’s $5,000 worth of supplies, said Lisa McDivitt Bush, marketing director.
President Karen McDivitt asked district officials in 2012 if the company’s charitable giving initiative, McDivitt Makes a Difference, could help students. Providing school supplies for Centennial kindergartners was identified as a top need.
Karen McDivitt, who worked in schools as a child psychologist, has “a deep belief in and respect for the power of education and a positive childhood experience,” McDivitt Bush said.
The firm’s 80 employees have adopted McDivitt’s belief in giving back to the community, she said.
“We want to have a meaningful impact on the daily lives of the people in Colorado, even if they never need to hire us,” McDivitt Bush said.