Stacy Walley had a problem.
The Employee Development coordinator at Alabama Power‘s Barry Steam Plant had to figure how to get a square peg in a round hole to provide homework supplies for a Mobile elementary school.
And she did it.
Walley is the plant’s liaison with George Hall Elementary, one of Barry’s “Partners-in-Education,” which means Barry employees regularly visit to provide funds and emotional support for the pre-K-fifth grade school in the economically struggling Maysville community in southwest Mobile.
Principal Melissa Mitchell requested supplies so students can work from home without lugging pencils, pens and paper back and forth each day.
“Our teachers believed it would benefit our students to have everything they need on hand at home so obstacles in completing homework and projects would be removed,” Mitchell said.
But Walley had a quandary.
“I have a certain amount of money I’m allotted to spend with George Hall each year and I really didn’t want to take away from that amount, because we do other events throughout the year,” Walley explained.
Those events include treating honor roll students to doughnuts each quarter; keeping supply closets stocked and providing a visit from Santa Claus at Christmas.
It’s in the bag
And then Walley had an idea: Ask Barry employees to sponsor a homework book bag for each of the 335 students.
“I bought the supplies and basically divided the cost by the number of students. I felt it was much more personal than just asking people to donate money toward the cost of supplies,” she said.
The cost came to $5 per student. Less than three weeks after sending an email request to the Barry “cluster” (Barry, Washington County Co-Gen and Theodore Co-Gen), employees had contributed $1,745.
“It just amazed me to see how quickly our employees came together to support these children,” Walley said. “It wasn’t like they were sponsoring just one student or two. There were four or 10; one employee even sponsored 40 children because she was a student at Hall when she was in elementary school.”
Mitchell was equally astounded, and verified Walley’s hunch that sponsoring each child individually would be more meaningful.
“It was truly amazing to see the team deliver a bag for every student in our school,” Mitchell said. “We appreciate all Alabama Power does each year to support our school, but it is extremely heartwarming to know this gift came to us through personal donations of employees.”
“I was so happy for my sweet kids at George Hall and so proud of my Barry family,” Walley said. “It was a win-win for me to be able to do this and not take away from their quarterly honor roll celebration and Operation Santa at Christmas.”
Mitchell commended Alabama Power for what it does year-round for George Hall.
“Many of our students do not have proper uniforms or supplies,” she said. “It is a comfort to know our school will always have the materials, supplies and clothing needed to support our students thanks to the support of Alabama Power.”