I’ve always had a passion for service. So this summer, when I first started my part-time job at ThoughtWorks, an IT Consulting Company, I was very adamant about doing something to get my company involved within the community.
Because the job sometimes included long hours and could be stressful, I wanted to think of something both simple and convenient, but still meaningful—and a School Supply Drive fit those criteria perfectly!
I contacted Oglethorpe’s Center for Civic Engagement to find a location where we could donate school supplies, and they suggested PATH Academy, a 5th-8th grade charter school located adjacent to Oglethorpe’s campus, directly behind Greek Row.
PATH Academy is a school comprised of 320 students—80% of which are English as a Second Language Learners. Upon enrollment in the school, all teachers, faculty members, students, and parents are required to sign a Commitment to Excellence form in order to uphold their commitment to the school and to each other to achieve success. The students have a rigorous academic curriculum, Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Friday from 7:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., and mandatory summer school. Between my previous volunteer experiences with the school, the strong connection that Oglethorpe has with PATH Academy, and the Academy’s acknowledgement of their students’ hard work every day, there was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to donate the supplies.
At work, I campaigned for the School Supply Drive and received a generous amount of donations. When my co-workers learned more about PATH Academy and realized the difference they could potentially make for their students, there was nothing stopping them from donating the supplies! At Oglethorpe, the CCE posted flyers, wrote blurbs for the weekly e-newsletter, the SOURCE, and even set up donation bins throughout campus offices. Through my efforts as well as those of Thoughtworks and the entire OU community, the total amount of supplies and monetary donations equaled over $750!
The most rewarding part of the experience was presenting the supplies to the PATH Academy students during their lunch period. When we first told the students that we were giving them the supplies, one 5th grade student shouted, “THANK YOU! WE LOVE YOU!” as loud as he could. All the others were clapping, cheering, and smiling uncontrollably. The faculty and staff members were all very excited as well, and continually thanked us.
Overall, it was an extremely rewarding experience and I can see that the PATH Academy students sincerely enjoy the connection they have with Oglethorpe students. If we keep that connection strong, it will work out to benefit both Oglethorpe University and PATH Academy.
If you are interested in finding out more about PATH Academy or volunteering there, please contact Peyton Healy (firstname.lastname@example.org). Pictured: Erica Blake ’13, a former Civic Engagement Ambassador, presents the school supplies to the PATH Academy during a lunch assembly.