WISD, Toyota launch ‘Safe Schools Washtenaw’ drive to support safety of students, schools

Community members, businesses encouraged to donate items, funds for schools

The donation drive aims to raise funds and collect health and safety items for students and school employees around Washtenaw County. (Washtenaw Intermediate School District)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Washtenaw Intermediate School District is collaborating with the county’s nine different districts to make sure students and schools have much-needed health and safety gear in the face of funding uncertainties and challenges.

On July 20, WISD will launch “Safe Schools Washtenaw,” a donation drive to collect hard-to-find items like personal protective equipment, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer for students and school employees. 

“Safe Schools Washtenaw” is also raising $500,000 to donate to 108 Washtenaw County schools so that they can purchase additional supplies and PPE in order to meet new state COVID-19 guidelines.

To jump-start the drive, Toyota Motor North America Research & Development has given a $100,000 seed grant and 10,000 face shields to the drive.

Toyota Community Relations Lead Praveena Ramaswami said the company wanted to make sure all of the school districts are equally able to protect students and teachers.

By working together, the school districts are better able to leverage their buying power for all of the county’s 46,000 students. The drive will also help school districts get specialized PPE for students with disabilities or medical needs.

Community members and businesses can participate by dropping-off donated items, purchasing items from the Safe Schools Washtenaw Amazon Wishlist or donating funds to WISD.

Make online donations here. 

Items for the drive can be dropped off between noon and 7 p.m. on July 20-27 and July 27-31 to WISD’s office at 1819 S. Wagner Rd.

 Volunteers will remove donated items from cars to ensure contactless drop-off. 

Needed items include face coverings like reusable and washable cloth masks, surgical masks, N-95 masks, gel hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, facial tissue and disinfecting wipes. Find specifics for donatable items here. 

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“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to PPE and other supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes is incredibly limited, though schools are being tasked with returning to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so,” stated WISD Interim Superintendent Naomi Norman in a release. “We cannot safely return to school without PPE and supplies, and we need the support of our community to help our schools prepare for face-to-face learning in a way that’s as safe as possible.”

There is not a specific amount of supplies the drive is hoping to gather but with around 46,000 students in the district, the drive will accept as many supplies as community members are willing to donate.

“I hoping that the donors, with whatever they donate, will realize that their contribution will be beyond their own community, which I think is pretty powerful,” Ramaswami said, adding that she hopes the collaboration shifts conversations to focus on the whole county instead of just individual areas.

Toyota will also share the best practices it has learned with the different school districts throughout the future to continue its support.

Cash or check donations to “Safe Schools Washtenaw” can be made to: Washtenaw Intermediate School District Safe Schools Washtenaw c/o Sarah Hierman, 1819 S. Wagner Road, P.O. Box 1406, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1406.

For more information regarding “Safe Schools Washtenaw”, visit www.washtenawisd.org/covid-19/safe-schools-washtenaw

Community members and businesses can donate by dropping-off items, purchasing Amazon Wishlist items or by donating monetary funds. (Washtenaw Intermediate School District)

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.