University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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UW-Eau Claire Students Gathering Supplies
to Help Students in Washington, D.C.

 MAILED:  Dec. 15, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Members of the Association of Student Social Workers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are soliciting donations of school supplies from UW-Eau Claire students, staff and faculty, community members and local businesses. Their goal is to bring the much-needed supplies to some of the Washington, D.C., schools they will visit on their Jan. 8-15 Alternate Winter Break trip.

This will be the 17th year that Pastor Don Wisner of University Lutheran Church will lead UW-Eau Claire students to Washington, D.C., over the university's winter break to volunteer in schools and shelters in some of the city's most impoverished areas.

According to Wisner, students and staff have often used their own funds to buy supplies to take to the inner-city schools they visit on the trip, but the need has grown so much in recent years that last year the ASSW started asking for donations from others as well.

"The schools and children really need more supplies," said senior social work major Sara Foster, Wausau , who will be participating in the program for the second time.

Unlike most school districts in this country, which are funded primarily through state and local taxes, Washington, D.C., schools must rely on direct funding from the U.S. Congress, and that funding, for whatever reason, appears to be inadequate.

Foster's efforts to contact local businesses netted a gift certificate from Target, where she plans to purchase some of the things the schools requested, as well as a donation of pencils from RCU. Foster said she's been in contact with a counselor from the Marie Reed Learning Center, where she worked last year, and that the school requested art supplies, pencils and paper.

"Last year we were fortunate enough to supply a couple of young children with backpacks, and they were ecstatic," said Foster. "It is just amazing what little things that we take for granted mean to the children there who don't have a lot of things like crayons. The faculty and students are very thankful for anything we donate."

Foster said this year's effort to trade cookies for supplies in Davies Center didn't attract as many donations as the ASSW group had hoped, but they still have a collection barrel in front of the social work department and University Lutheran is always open to receiving donations of money or supplies for the trip. Anyone still interested in donating school supplies also can contact Foster at

In addition to assisting at schools during the Alternate Winter Break, UW-Eau Claire students will work at Christ House, a 34-bed health care facility and temporary residence for men who are ill and homeless, and at the Bethany Women's Shelter. At both locations students will help with practical things like cleaning, serving meals, and transporting or accompanying residents to doctor appointments, but they also will spend time just visiting with residents or participating in recreational activities.

The Alternate Winter Break program is co-sponsored by University Lutheran Church, the UW-Eau Claire Office of Multicultural Affairs and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.



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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
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Updated: December 23, 2004