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Safely Back to School: East Grand Rapids families raise money to fill funding gaps

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Posted at 4:27 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 20:07:28-04

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — While school is out for the summer, the East Grand Rapids community is working hard to help out their district as it faces a nearly $3 million budget shortfall because of COVID-19.

More than $1 million in cuts could potentially affect teachers, school programs like music and the athletics budget.

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An effort called One East put together yard sales, with the first one raising $27,000.

Andrea Hecksel, a parent volunteer with three kids in the district, said it was important for her to be part of the fundraiser.

“We are all invested in it and want the best for our kids,” she said. “So having everybody come in and shop, and, you know, they come up and make a really great donation as they buy things. So it’s good.”

With donations from more than 100 families, One East was able to hold several yard sales, as well as a canned food drive.

Tamara Christians organized the event.

“I would say I have a garage sale in my blood,” she said. “My grandfather’s on the school board in Warren, Ohio, and my grandmother used to do garage sales pretty much every summer. So after hearing from the school board that we had a huge gap to fill in our funding, we decided to do a community yard sale.”

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Their efforts give the school district a chance to thrive this fall.

"I think the biggest thing is we just want to make sure that people are supporting public education, wherever they are — that that's a huge piece,” Amy Stuursma said. “And I want people to really understand that our public schools and our children are the future and that's where we need to be putting our focus."