When local parent Katie Scann heard that students were going back to school, she knew right away that she wanted to help. After a year in distance learning, these students wouldn’t have school supplies – parents had lost their jobs, took on extra responsibilities to support others in need, and didn’t have the money to provide these supplies. "I wanted to find a way to let the children know that their community cares about them, which created the idea for Operation Welcome Back,” Katie shared.
Katie knew she couldn’t do it alone – so she came to United Way of Southern Nevada. "When the UWSN team heard about Katie’s idea for a school supply drive, we jumped into action,” said UWSN’s Volunteer Engagement and Events Manager, Savanna Sibley. “We believe that every child should return to the classroom prepared to succeed.”
By helping Katie manage the collection of community donations and connecting her with our partners at the Public Education Foundation, US Bank, and UNLV, UWSN collected thousands of school supplies for Operation Welcome Back. Once the UWSN team had the supplies and goody bags, all that was left was to recruit some helping hands. United Way’s friends at KTNV Channel 13 Action News and FOX 5 Vegas stepped up to help get the word out to the community and shared how people could give back to students in need through volunteering.
With the help of these media supporters and UWSN’s Volunteer Connect, UWSN rallied 30 local volunteers to build Operation Welcome Back goody bags. In two short days, we created over 1,700 school supply bags, which have been distributed to eight schools across the valley. "The experience has been nothing short of amazing because we were able not just to collaborate, but to connect as a community in unity for the greater good,” Katie shared. “Without United Way, we would not have been able to reach all the children that we did, and for that, we’re forever grateful.”
United, we were able to bring smiles to our Southern Nevada students' faces and help them feel ready to return to the classroom. This is the power of United Way - the ability to provide support to local changemakers with innovative ideas, like Katie, and unite members of the community to make an impact in the lives of those who need it most.