Photos by Rome City Schools
Students at Elm Street Elementary School will be toasty this holiday season thanks to Sherwin Williams (420 Shorter Avenue, Rome). The company hosted a blanket drive and donated all of the comfy covers to students in need. This will come in handy as temperatures drop significantly during the winter months.
Hunt Quinlivan, Sherwin Williams Store Manager and his wife Dana, a second grade teacher at Elm Street Elementary, were trying to come up with ways they could give back to their community when they stumbled upon the idea of a blanket drive.
“My wife Dana and I were talking one night about ways we could help the students at Elm Street, especially before the holiday break,” explained Hunt. “She mentioned donating blankets to students, so we slept on the idea for a few nights. After a few days of brainstorming we came up with the idea of hosting a blanket drive here at Sherwin Williams where the community could also get involved.”
Being a teacher and having two kids themselves, Dana could not stop thinking about her own children feeling cold or going to school tired because of lack of sleep, which fueled the fire in them to want to do something more for her Elm Street family.
“When you are with these kids all day they become like your own children, so we just knew we had to do something,” said Dana.
Hunt, along with the help of his Assistant Manager Shontae Johnson, set up a donation corner in their store where customers and other members of the community could come in and drop off their blanket donations.
Social media has also played a huge role in the response to Sherwin Williams’ blanket drive, and many of Hunt’s customers have been very supportive and appreciative of their desire to help the students within their community by giving monetary donations along with blankets.
“Many of our painters have donated the majority of the blankets, which says something about people in our community and their willingness to help the children,” said Hunt.
Dana added, “I think it’s cool because not only have we reached painters at Sherwin Williams, but have also reached employees at hospitals, several realtors, etc. Just to see different professions in our community getting involved for our students is amazing,” smiled Dana.
Both Hunt and Dana are new to Rome and were trying to find ways to get more involved locally. With everything Elm Street already does for their children, Dana wanted to contribute more for the children who hold a special place in her heart.
“At school, we are so focused on instruction and making sure the students are getting what they need academically. But to be able to do something like this and treat them as not just a student but a whole person by being able to provide for their basic needs, it drastically impacts their learning experience,” said Dana.
“Knowing they can come to school with a great night’s sleep and ready to learn is so calming. Also, being able to reach them in this way lets them know that we aren’t just their teachers, or their principal, or just a paint salesman. We want them to know we care about them and we want them to be loved and comfortable. I feel that this project gives them a trust in us beyond their days at school. With Rome being a small community, any way we can get the community involved to support our kids is obviously a win-win situation,” smiled Dana.
Hunt and Dana haven’t officially counted the number of blankets they have received from community members; however, they believe that they are giving close to 200 blankets to the students at Elm Street Elementary.
“A lot of people want to give back to the community, but they don’t know how to do so,” explained Laura Walley, Elm Street Elementary School Principal. “So, when you have an organization in town, whether it be a store like Sherwin Williams or another community partner, that volunteers to spearhead the initiatives, that is all it takes.”
Next week also starts Elm Street Elementary School’s angel tree donations.
“The families on our lists will be coming to collect Christmas gifts, and with their gifts we are going to make sure that they have one new blanket per child. With the other blankets, we are asking our teachers if there are other students in need of a new blanket. We will have those in our counselor’s office, and before our students go home, we will put them in backpacks, make a quick phone call home to parents, etc.,” said Walley.
Sherwin Williams will be collecting blankets until Friday, December 7 for Elm Street Elementary School students. If you would like to contribute to the cause, you can stop by Sherwin Williams and drop new blankets or make a monetary donation.
Special thanks to Sherwin Williams and the Quinlivan’s for putting together an initiative for the betterment of all students at Elm Street Elementary School.