Cassville Rotary Club buys school supplies for foster children

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The Cassville Rotary Club purchased $1,500 of school supplies for Barry County foster children this week, a first-time purchase and project for the organization, which is known for facilitating and funding civic projects to help local schools and the community with various needs. Roark Family Health is distributing the school supplies and backpacks, which are currently set up at the clinic at 1101 N. Main Street in Cassville for foster families to pick up Tuesday through Thursday of this week. Contributed photo

$1,500 purchase first-time project to help local children

The Cassville Rotary Club aims to do good throughout the community, and the most recent example of that was when the group purchased school supplies -- about $1,500 worth -- for Barry County foster children.

"What we did was we got all the lists through Barry County schools and purchased all the school supplies and backpacks, and sent letters to about 50 families letting them know about the supplies," said Dr. Lisa Roark, M.D., of Roark Family Health, and Rotary member.

"We are facilitating it, but Rotary is sponsoring it," Roark said. "It's a joint effort."

All the supplies are currently set up at the clinic and the families have been invited to come in on today and Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to pick out supplies, smorgasbord style, Roark said.

"So we'll have someone here late, and they can just come in to get what they need," Roark said. "It's all here for them, and it's completely free."

The purchase is not a project the Rotary Club has done before, but plans on doing in the future to help local foster families, Roark said.

"There are a lot of foster kids in our area," Roark said. "They have a monthly stipend to cover all the kids' needs, food, clothing, etc., and they get free meals at school, but not school supplies.

On average, the cost for school supplies, was about $30 per child.

"That's a lot, and most of these parents have multiple children," she said.

Roark Family Health is a community partner for Cassville schools, and Roark is a foster parent herself, with two foster children, one previous foster child she adopted, and three biological children. Although the project was sponsored by the Rotary Club, Roark wanted to do something to assist, making multiple trips to the store to purchase the majority of the supplies.

"A lot of the Rotary members were really supportive [of the project]," she said. "Churches offer some support, but as a foster parent myself, we don't ask for help, we just go and buy it ourselves, so my thought was, 'Let's just make something for foster parents where you just get what you need and you don't have to ask for anything.'"

Roark said they've had a great turnout already, with about 25 children and their families showing up Tuesday to get supplies.

"The bottom line is, it's going to help people," she said. "Is it going to change the system? No, but if we can help these foster parents who are working hard, that's fantastic."

"Lisa saw the need, has gotten this project organized, and she's the one that's been spearheading it, for the foster families to make sure the kids have the school supplies they need to go to school and be successful in school," said Justin Gates, business banking relationship manager for Commerce and new Rotary Club president. "It's just one of the things where we saw the need in our community and we were behind her and the vision of it.

"Rotary is a great organization and composed of business people of our area. The Cassville Rotary Club is part of Rotary International, and its main goal since the beginning has been to eradicate polio throughout the world. But some of the main projects we do throughout our community here is the Rotary Rodeo, the Demolition Derby and the Bull Buckout."

Gates said the club spearheads a lot of programs through the schools that help local children.

"We give a dictionary to every third-grader in the county, we do the Don't Meth With Us program that focuses on bad choices with meth, which focuses on area fifth-graders, and the Choices program that targets eighth-graders, talking to them about the importance of their choices throughout high school. The big thing with Rotary is being there for our community members that are in need."

Gates was sworn in as the club's new president on July 1.

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