Totally Giving Back: Water bottles and other items donated to area school

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Totally Promotional recently donated hundreds of sports bottles, tote bags and other supplies to students at Perry Local School District in Lima, Ohio.

Perry schools guidance counselor Linda Hoersten said the items mean a lot to the staff, students and their families.

“It was a great surprise for our school,” she said. “This donation is huge for us.”

The small city school currently has more than 800 students enrolled in grades K-12. The district faces many challenges each day due to economic issues and other factors. More than 80 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunches, Hoersten said.

In December 2020, several employees of Totally Promotional in Coldwater, Ohio, delivered the truckload of tote and drawstring bags, sports bottles, towels and blankets to the school. Hoersten said the staff was excited about the donations.

“The teachers saw the tote bags and immediately asked ‘Can we use these?’” she said. “Our little kiddos don’t always have bags to carry their things, so these will come in extremely handy.”

Tote bags help feed students at home

The district plans to fill some of the tote bags with food students can eat on days they aren’t in school. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the district has been operating on a “hybrid” plan that alternates students between in-person education and virtual learning from home. They’ve also had students attend school remotely while in quarantine for the virus.

Hybrid learning isn’t best for all students, Hoersten said.

“This hurts some of our kids. If they don’t come to school, they might not have food to eat,” she explained. “If food is the heaviest worry on their heart, we have to help.”

The school’s cafeteria staff on Mondays and Tuesdays prepare breakfast and lunch for the children to take home and eat on virtual learning days. The cafeteria crew in December prepared over 6,000 take-home meals, Hoersten said.

Donated items fill a variety of needs

The donated sports bottles will also fill a need, the staff said. Perry schools is one of many in the area that use bottle filling stations instead of traditional water fountains. Some students simply don’t own a sports bottle or forget to bring them to school, Hoersten added.

“We’ll use these as a backup supply,” she said.

The blankets and towels will be useful in school and as essential resources for families in the community. As an example, Hoersten shared a story about a family in their school district who experienced a house fire shortly before Christmas. A cozy blanket or clean towel can mean the world when your life is disrupted like that, she added.

Hoersten said the items donated by Totally Promotional are practical tools they can use to battle the fallout from COVID-19 and make it easier for students to learn.

‘We want to do anything we can to keep our kids at school,” she said.

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