Decker Leads Partnership with Banana Republic to Illustrate Benefits of Collaboration

I woke myself up
Because we ain’t got an alarm clock
Dug in the dirty clothes basket,
Cause ain’t nobody washed my uniform
Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,
Cause the lights ain’t on
Even got my baby sister ready
Cause my mama wasn’t home.
Got us both to school on time,
To eat us a good breakfast.
Then when I got to class the teacher fussed
Cause I ain’t got a pencil.

Cause I ain’t got a pencil
By Joshua T. Dickerson

“Retail Therapy” by Cassandra Decker

January 26, 2017

Our children’s success depends on a number of factors outside of actual classroom content, including access to the most basic school and living supplies. As Joshua Dickerson reveals in his poem, “Cause I Ain’t Got a Pencil,” often students at our Title 1 schools are facing additional obstacles in life that might affect their ability to comprehend their lessons while in school and practice skills learned at school. Providing basic needs to our children is vital for ensuring they are reading on grade level.

United Way of Manatee County and Banana Republic Factory Store employees at the Ellenton Outlet Mall have teamed up to provide such basic needs. In September, Banana Republic employees held a school supply drive, which benefited one of United Way’s ReadingPals classrooms. Over the last few months, employees launched a sock and undies drive – items that are sorely missing among our families that are often mobile or are struggling to make ends meet. The lead on these projects, Leah Travis, commented about the sheer cost of providing such basic clothing supplies to our children. “The costs really started to add up for even the smallest children’s socks and undies. And to think – children grow so quickly! Can you imagine having more than one child, all of them whose sizes change every few months?” These basic needs are even more difficult to provide for our families who must change living situations frequently due to a number of reasons beyond our children’s control.

Partnering with UWMC and Banana Republic is the Manatee School District’s Graduation Enhancement Technicians (GETs) who conduct home visits with families. The donated socks and undies will be dispersed in a confidential manner to those who know our families’ needs. Thanks to this partnership, our children can have essential clothing that, as Leah ensured, is as special as other children’s. “I made sure to get designs and cool colors,” Leah explained. “Why should these children be denied Superman and lime green items; we want them to feel these are as special as they are.”

Indeed our children are all special and United Way of Manatee County continues to fight for the health, financial stability, and education for every member of our community. Thank you to Banana Republic and the “Be What’s Possible” program through Gap Incorporated as well as our Graduation Enhancement Technicians who are on the ground every day fighting for our children.

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