Weatherford Democrat

Aledo ExtrA

April 15, 2013

Making a difference: Aledo Children's AdvoCats

By JUDY SHERIDAN

According to Aledo ISD counselors, there’s a link between how a child feels about him or herself and his or her academic performance.

That’s one reason, they say, the Aledo Children’s AdvoCats — an all-volunteer non-profit that helps meet the needs of financially-challenged children — plays a key role in education.

“Clothes have to do with social standing in the school, and they make a pretty big impact on how [students] feel,” Aledo High School counselor Scott Kessel said. “They have a bearing on academic performance.”

Coder Elementary counselor Jennifer Kirkpatrick agrees, pointing out the AdvoCats’ Clothes Closet on Bankhead Highway — where families shop with school-furnished vouchers — has a good selection of updated clothing, some brand new.

“Even at elementary school, kids like to look really good,” she said. “If they feel good about themselves, they’re proud, and it comes out in their work and attitudes.”

The AdvoCats, who donated more than $35,000 last year to more than 350 local children, are a go-to resource in the Aledo Independent School District, not only for clothes and school supplies, but for field trips, senior rings, prom dresses, sports activities, summer camps — even medical and utility bills, counselors say.

The group also donated more than $17,000 last year for children’s Christmas gifts.

“They go above and beyond,” Vandagriff Elementary counselor Debbie Thornton said. “We just had fifth graders go to a 3-day YMCA science camp, and there were half a dozen who couldn’t afford the $130 fee. No questions asked, they paid. They’ve paid for eyeglasses, dental work, even emergency room visits and medicine.”

The programs and services offered, Kessel said, are conducted through the counselors on each campus.

“As we see needs, we relay that information,” he said.

Kirkpatrick said parents of Coder students tell her when they’re going through a rough time and update her when situations improve.

Families must fill out a request form for assistance, she said.

Requests for help with utility or medical bills — more expensive needs — require longer forms with more detailed financial information.

The AdvoCats go to the campuses to pick up the forms.

“It’s a great service,” she said. “[Students] can get three pairs of pants or shorts, three shirts, three pairs of socks and three pairs of underwear every six weeks, and a pair of shoes every semester.”

Having a Coder T-shirt is a big deal, she noted.

“On Spirit Day, they want to be part of the Bearcat family.”

Students who qualify for the AdvoCats’ services are the same as those who qualify for federal free or reduced-cost lunch programs, Kessel said, that’s how they’re identified. At Aledo High School, 112 students are eligible.

“At Coder this year 40 to 50 kids benefited from the school supplies,” Kirkpatrick said. “That number includes students who qualified for Pre-K, which is based on income level, military status or participation in English as a Second Language.”

Sometimes parents are too proud to ask, Thornton said. The AdvoCats collaborate with local churches to provide weekend snack packs for elementary students, she said, and about 60 students from Vandagriff participate.

For ethical and legal reasons, the group is careful to maintain anonymity and confidentiality about the things they provide, Kessel said. They don’t want to know names or faces.

"The district must comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act laws in not disclosing identities,” he said, “and ethically, [the AdvoCats] want to insure that the family knows no one is finding out; no one is talking about this kid.”

Students are appreciative, Kessel said.

“There was a student coming to school recently in clothes that didn’t fit and were not the current style,” he said. “She had the opportunity to get clothes that fit her better, and she gave me a great big hug, although I didn’t have much to do with it.

“Last week there was a senior girl who got her class ring. All along, she didn’t think she was going to get one, but we walked through the process, and then it was done and paid for. She was wearing it with such pride.”

“They are so wonderful,” Thornton said. “Anything we ask for, they do. They show up. They help kids meet various needs.”

Text Only
Aledo ExtrA
  • IMG_1138.jpg Ride for Heroes a success

    Nearly 1,200 cyclists flooded the roads around East Parker County during Saturday’s 12th annual Moritz Ride for Heroes.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • H. Harris.jpg Aledo ISD School Board Place 7 candidates

    Early voting for the May 10 general election begins April 28. Following is information gathered from the candidates for the Place 7 Aledo ISD trustee race, Hoyt Harris, James Riley Morrison and Debra Rogers.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • D_Davis photo.jpg Aledo ISD School Board Place 6 candidates

    Early voting for the May 10 general election begins April 28. Following is information gathered from the candidates for the Place 6 Aledo ISD trustee race, incumbent David Davis and challenger Farida Goderya.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Anita Callaway.jpg Callaway gets A+

    Anita Callaway, an English teacher at Daniel Ninth Grade Center, was named “Teacher of the Year” during the 2014 Marva Collins Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony held April 15 in the Aledo High School auditorium.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Man dies in Farmer Road crash

    A 60-year-old Parker County man was killed around 9:30 a.m. April 15 in a one-vehicle crash in the 2100 block of FM Road 3325, also known as Farmer Road.

    April 23, 2014

  • Fire victims' fund established

    Two streets down and hours after many members of the East Parker County community gathered April 5 to present a new home built with donations to the Hancock family, another family in the West Oak subdivision lost their home to a fire and is now in need of support from the community.

    April 23, 2014

  • Delay adds $56,000 to Aledo Trail project

    The long delay in the Aledo Trail downtown couplet, now due to finish in summer instead of spring, will add about $56,000 to the cost of the project, Parker County commissioners learned last week, when they approved a change order upping the contract to around $3.3 million.

    April 23, 2014

  • Parker County Sheriff's Report March 31-April 11

    April 11
    Theft of property

    A deputy was dispatched to 8600 Interstate 20 East, Aledo, in reference to a theft investigation. The 57-year-old male complainant said an unknown suspect stole $1,000 of copper wire from the Sprint tower on the site. A case was made for the theft of property: aluminum, bronze, copper and brass.

    April 23, 2014

  • East Parker County Calendar of Events

    April 24
    Bearcats ‘N Boots Gala: dinner, auction and entertainment

    • 6:30 p.m. at Cendera Center, 3600 Benbrook Highway, Fort Worth.
    • Catered by The Wild Mushroom; entertainment by Four Day Weekend.
    • Tickets cost $100.
    • Benefitting the Aledo ISD Education Foundation
    • Title sponsor Buford-Thompson Company.  
    • For more information, go to aledoef.org.

    April 23, 2014

  • EXTENSION NEWS: Take a mind vacation

    For many of us, every day has some sort of stress associated with it. Whether it is something at home or at work, it seems like there are a million things stressing us out and making us feel overwhelmed.

    April 20, 2014

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers