Local businesses help underprivileged students get a jumpstart as they head to school

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Two weeks ago, a Poplarville mother asked local business owners to collect donations for Poplarville Upper Elementary families who could not afford to buy school supplies. PUE Principal Lynn Payne said the last minute effort was one of the biggest supply donations the school has received in recent history due to the support.
Amanda Rothman, a member of the Citizens Militia of Mississippi, who has a child attending PUE, came up with the idea and led the charge to gather the donations.
After seeing firsthand how devastating it is to lose everything when she and her family fell victim to the widespread flooding in Poplarville in August of 2016. After months of struggling to make ends meet, Rothman has since worked to help families who are going through similar struggles.
“I know how it feels to lose everything, so it means the world to me that I am able to help other kids and families.”
Dan Duplantis, director of the Citizens Militia of Mississippi, said the drive was part of their community outreach program and an effort to erase the stigma of the word “militia.”
“We are much more than a militia. We try to help out every way we can in our members’ communities across the entire state. It’s all in an effort to improve our state from the neighborhoods and up,” Duplantis said.
These donations contribute to more than the students’ education, they help disadvantaged children start on the same page as every other student.
“You see a lot of relief on their faces. They no longer have to wonder what is going to happen when they get to school. They get to start off on the same foot as everyone else,” Payne said.
The donations included backpacks, notebooks, erasers and candy. More donations will hopefully help all the students in need at PUE, Payne said.
“We don’t want anyone to be left behind. Thanks to the donations, every child will fit right in and the insecurities will fly out the window,” Loletha Needham, PUE assistant principal said. “You see kids actually enjoying school when they have everything they need and we believe that attitude is the foundation of great education.”
Ever year, Payne said a number of children come to the school without all of the supplies they need to begin the school year. Because of this, he said many parents seek help.
“It’s hard for parents to say they do not have the means to provide these things for their children. So we always try and help,” Payne said.
Most of the time, it’s the teachers who buy extra supplies out of their own pockets for the students who show up without the necessary materials. He added that this large donation is uplifting for the entire school.
After parents fill out a simple form, the school fills a backpack with a variety of donated supplies that helps prepare the student for the new school year.
“We want to thank Citizens Militia of Mississippi, the local businesses and all the support we get from our loving parents. Donations like this go a long way in these student’s futures and we appreciate every bit of it,” Payne said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox