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Local nurse rallies community to collect supplies for GRPS students

Posted at 10:45 PM, Oct 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-17 22:48:45-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — During this ongoing pandemic, we continue to see people reaching out to help others in need, and it's no different here in West Michigan.

A frontline worker is on a mission to make sure students at Grand Rapids Public Schools have enough supplies to be successful.

Audrey Wendt is a ER Nurse at Spectrum Health Butterworth who is always caring for others, and it doesn't stop when she gets home.

Her living room is overflowing with school supplies, toys, puzzles and so much more because she wanted to help the students at Buchanan Elementary.

"I researched schools in the area and looked for ones that might be in the highest need," Audrey Wendt said.

"I found a few, I called Buchanan Elementary School and talked to their staff there and I got my answer," she said. "It broke my heart, they don't get those things. they're the families there are a little bit lower income, and so they don't have the extra money to buy the balls for each room or puzzles for each room."

Audrey began her mission by rallying the troops on social media, and put together an Amazon Wish List.

"We posted it on Facebook thinking that maybe people would buy like 10 boxes of crayons, and we'd be excited about that and then that night, we woke up and discovered that people had bought already like $1,000 worth of school supplies for the school and it kept growing at two days, at 48 hours, we had $3,000 and right now we are currently at $7500. and in eight days, so it just keeps getting bigger and we're very excited for these children."

The idea is also a big hit with the Grand Rapids Public School Foundation; their main goal is to raise money for the district to fund things like sports, the arts, libraries and so much more.

Sally Andreatta is the executive director, and she says she was blown away by Audrey in their very first conversation.

"Just huge hearts and just great passion I mean, isn't that what it's all about right now is helping each other, and I love this, you know I just love it when people reach out like this." Andreatta said.

Audrey says her mission has now taken on a life of its own.

They've already completed the wishlists for the Pre-K class, Kindergarten, and the gym teacher; the first and second grades as well as the art teacher's wish list are nearly there.

"A lot of these people I do not know, the people shared the post, and people contacted me that I have no idea who they are and they were just willing to give and they trusted us to pull through for these kids and they send all this stuff to our house so this is just from the community," Wendt said.

A community that knows what's really important in life.

"We knew Grand Rapids was great but with this movement, it proves something. It proved that our community understands that if we invest our time, and our effort and our money, and our love in these children, that that is going to change their lives and we are going to benefit from that," Andreatta said.

"Our community is going to benefit from that. These kids are going to change our city with a good education, they are going to change our country and our world. and if we pour into that Grand Rapids is only going to reap the benefits and it's just a beautiful thing that we can give to these tools."

It also helps when you have people like Audrey Wendt leading the charge.

"I tell you I wish there was 100 Audrey's," Andreatta said. "I wish somebody would clone her"

"I think a lot of times people don't realize that it's not that difficult to just kind of pick up the phone and say how do I do this. so, it means so much, and just having that conversation with her and realizing how passionate she was about really helping."

The students at Buchanan Elementary have been remote learning since the start of the school year, but are scheduled to return in person on October 19.

If you would like to help the students check out the wishlist and also, click here to learn more about the Buchanan Vending Machine Wish Fund.

The students are trying super hard to raise enough money to buy a book vending machine for the school. They get tokens for good behavior that can be spent to buy a book .