By Dr. Dave Benson
Lee’s Summit R-7 Interim Superintendent
A vital foundation for all successful school districts is a consistent and positive relationship with the community. During this holiday season, I wanted to share information about how our schools and community make meaningful connections through two-way charitable endeavors.
We are grateful that Lee’s Summit R-7 students and families who are struggling financially receive help from a number of organizations and individuals. During the holidays, school staff members work with many of these organizations through adopt-a-family programs. Families in need receive presents, food and other necessities. To protect privacy, R-7 employees who work on the family adoptions make sure that the families being helped remain anonymous at all times.
Several of the organizations adopting our school families are often our own student groups as well as employees from various schools and departments.
Throughout the year, our generous community continues to reach out to children. A variety of organizations assist with the Backsnack program to provide food for students to take home. In addition, several churches and other charitable organizations have created summer programs that provide meals to students who qualify for the federal free/reduced breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. These programs are much appreciated by the students as well as our school staff members who know how difficult the summer months can be for these children.
These quiet acts of kindness in support of our students and families greatly enhance their lives and strengthen our entire community.
Our students also have the opportunity to cultivate a spirit of generosity by joining forces with other organizations for community-service projects and fundraisers. Students partner with a wide variety of organizations and agencies to help people coping with serious illness, families who are struggling to make ends meet, pets in need of adoption, soldiers serving overseas or the elderly — just to name a few causes. Working with our district’s staff members, students have opportunities to enhance their leadership and organizational skills while working for the greater good. In addition, staff and students frequently collaborate with their schools’ business partners to enhance this relationship and do even more good.
By partnering with charitable organizations, students develop positive character traits and learn about the benefits of living a generous life. Research has shown what many of us have known for years — that generosity is not only a positive for our communities and our world, it helps improve our overall health. During an interview several years ago, George Lucas of “Star Wars” fame, wisely said, “The best way to pursue happiness is to help other people. Because there is nothing else that will make you happier.” By teaching our students the value of giving to others, we are influencing their actions and their quality of life for years to come.
This two-way generosity — our community giving to our schools and students as well as our schools giving back to the community — helps create an even stronger connection and spirit of cooperation within our district. It also keeps the important cycle of giving alive — today and in the future.
On behalf of our staff and students, I want to thank the hundreds of individuals and organizations who provide assistance to our families in need and who partner with our schools to make the world a better place.