Had you walked into the Red Lion Inn on September 29th at 7:00 am you would have found several hundred yawning men and women all eager to support a cause unknown to many but more important than most could imagine. This was the Olympia School District Education Foundation breakfast for the Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund. I’ll admit that although I did know what the P.E.C.F. was, I did not quite realize the importance of it. For those of you who don’t know, the P.E.C.F. gives school principals emergency funds for student family’s household needs; everything from soap to a utilities payment. This breakfast was the largest fundraiser for the program. Throughout the morning we heard heart wrenching stories that definitely made me, and I’m sure others, think about our lives from a different view. You see this year’s topic was poverty. The main speaker gave an inspiring speech about the effect of poverty on a child’s education. Of course I am biased because although many know him as the the Director of Organizational Development–Major Metro Services at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, I know him as daddy. Joe Ingoglia has worked with kids affected by poverty almost his entire career. He talked about how kids are much less likely to graduate when living in poverty. Several teachers and school administrators spoke about their own uses of the checkbook fund and how they used it to change the lives of their students and families. There were two stories that struck me more than anything. One principal told a story about a boy that hadn’t gotten a new pair of shoes in years. This principal offered to buy the student shoes. Upon receiving them, the student burst into tears. Another kid asked if this principal could buy him soap. One of the most important things I took away from that morning was to not take anything for granted. To be honest, I don’t worry about whether or not my family can buy soap. For these people the principal’s checkbook fund is the only reason they have soap or shoes or food or a roof over their heads. A child shouldn’t have to worry about affording their next meal, just on what they’re going to wear on “pajama day” during spirit week. I encourage whoever is reading this to think about what you have and be thankful for it and maybe next time you have the chance, do something for a child in need, even if it is buying them a bar of soap.
– Petra McDonnell Ingoglia
About the Author: Petra McDonnell Ingoglia is a sophomore at Olympia High School. She has volunteered to write blogs for the OSDEF this year as part of her community service.