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.”
Run, Walk or Crawl set for April 27
The 8th Annual Aledo Children’s AdvoCats’ Run, Walk or Crawl fundraiser will be held Saturday, April 27, at Bearcat Stadium. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., with the Kiddie K Fun Run (ages 10 and under) at 8 a.m. and the 5K Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. Online registration for the event is available at www.AledoAdvoCats.com. through April 19. For more information, contact Tracy Stallings Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
SPRINGTOWN – After finding that a breaker manufactured by a company with a history of issues contributed to a house fire Friday, Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott is urging Parker County residents with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok circuit breakers to call an electrician and get them checked for safety.
Candidates have filed for city, school board elections
Filings for May 10 city and school board elections are now complete. A summary follows:
On the Aledo ISD school board incumbents David Davis, in Place 6, and Hoyt Harris, in Place 7, have both filed for re-election, each drawing one or more opponents. Farida Goderya has filed for Place 6, opposite Davis, and Riley Morrison and Debra Rogers have filed for Place 7, opposite Harris.
East Parker County Calendar of Events
The East Parker County Chamber of Commerce will welcome retired USAF SMSGT Vernon M. Anderson, Jr., senior technical instructor, Bell Helicopter, Integrated Operations Engineering Support Technical Training Department, as the key note speaker for the March 12 luncheon.
The Sunny Side
WILLOW PARK – Peppered with anecdotes from his stellar baseball career, former Texas Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg gave witness to his Christian faith and told how it changed his life before a crowd of about 200 at the recent annual Trinity Christian Academy dinner and fundraiser.
Aledo ISD approves suicide prevention program
The Aledo School Board approved the LifeLines Suicide Prevention Program in February, lining up with a recommendation from the Student Health Advisory Council, which has spent a year reviewing choices.
Aledo ISD could save up to $2 million
Expecting to save close to $2 million, Aledo ISD trustees recently voted to let district staff pull the trigger on a bank-qualified refunding of some of the district’s outstanding bonds once market conditions are optimum.
Don't feed the deer!
HUDSON OAKS — The city council recently passed an ordinance banning the feeding of deer.
Parker County Sheriff's Report Feb. 27-March 2
Burglary of a vehicle
Deputies were dispatched to the 300 block of James Street in Aledo shortly after 6 p.m. regarding the burglary of a vehicle.
ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Is it too early to start a vegetable garden?
Considering our winter temperatures this year, that’s a good question. When it comes to a successful vegetable garden, timing is everything. The goal in Texas is to have most of your vegetable crops mature before the temperatures soar in mid-summer.
EXTENSION NEWS: Getting more zzzs could help you lose some lbs.
We spend about one-third of our lifetime sleeping. Sleep is important for learning and memory. Sleep also helps our immune system to resist illness and disease, increases response times in emergencies, improves our mood and feelings of wellness and gives us the energy we need to be more active and alert.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Breaker, breaker!