LINCOLN – Lincoln Bright Futures thanked the community on October 29 for coming together to meet the needs of students over the past year.
“It’s been a great year,” said Jana Claybrook, Director of Learning Services at Lincoln Schools. “Bright Futures did not close its doors during the pandemic.”
Claybrook sits on the Bright Futures Advisory Board, along with community members and other members of the school district.
The council hosted an appreciation luncheon in the community hall of the district administration office to celebrate a generous community and the successes of the past year.
“Really what we do is involve the community in the lives of our students,” Claybrook said. “We believe in the future of the Lincoln children.”
Lincoln joined the national Bright Futures organization, based in Joplin, Missouri, in May 2015. Lincoln is one of some 70 communities in eight states that sponsor a program.
The goal of Bright Futures is to meet the basic needs of every child so that he or she can succeed and graduate. People in the community are encouraged to help meet these needs with their “time, talent or treasures”.
Requirements are posted on the Lincoln Bright Futures Facebook page for the community to view. The goal is to meet these needs within 24 hours.
Claybrook has pointed out some successes since March 2020. Bright Futures did not host a lunch in 2020 due to covid-19.
When schools closed to in-person learning in March 2020, Lincoln continued to deliver meals to students for the remainder of the school year and into the summer. Meals were either delivered to homes or to drop-off points in the county.
From March to August 2020, the school delivered 209,000 meals, Claybrook said.
This was not possible, she said, without the district transportation department headed by director Deon Birkes, Aramark and nutrition staff, bus drivers, school staff, students and many volunteers. .
In May, the district purchased a snow truck with the help of donations and Cox Communications to help the future of Lincoln graduate AJ Valdez.
Valdez, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, had said he wanted to have his own snow cone truck one day. The district and Bright Futures made that possible, Claybrook said.
Lincoln is also one of the districts participating in a program called Essentials Outreach. On the third Saturday of the month, the program provides basic necessities, such as shampoo, laundry and soap, to approximately 40 families.
Another Bright Futures event, the annual Back to School Bonanza, provides a backpack, shoes, socks and other school supplies to children each year. For 2021, the manna served 286 children.
The district filled another 500 needs last year, Claybrook said. These needs included food, shoes and socks, underwear, prescription gift cards, paying $ 850 worth of water bills, repairing a high school student’s truck, and providing a pair of contact lenses to another high school student.
Bright Futures sponsored two fundraisers during the year to raise funds to help meet the need. One was during the Chicken Rod Nationals Car Show and the other was during the Arkansas Apple Festival. Cash donations from organizations, businesses and individuals also help meet needs.
Kim Vann, Executive Director of Bright Futures USA, attended the lunch and said Lincoln is seen as a nationwide model community for Bright Futures.
“This community always comes out every time,” said Vann. “We love this community, and it’s a bright place to be able to visit.”
The Bright Futures Celebration Luncheon in the past was held closer to Thanksgiving. Along with him, guests are encouraged to choose an angel from the angel tree to give a child gifts for the Christmas holidays.
Bright Futures board member Carrie Provence said the decision was made to host the lunch earlier this year due to reports of supply chain backlogs. That way, she said, guests could select their angel and start shopping earlier.
For 2021, the angel tree has around 300 children of all ages.
Lynn Kutter can be reached by email at [email protected] .