PTO: The Power of PTOs

Earlier this month, Mary Feeser PTO president Julie Tyrakowski had an idea.

Every December, at Mary Feeser, and at many schools throughout the district, students collect items like non-perishable food and toiletries to help other ECS schools in need.

“The student council at Mary Feeser usually coordinates a food drive, then we pick a few families in need, and provide food and gifts for the holidays. Our student council didn’t do a food drive this year, so I thought it would be a great chance for our PTO to step up. I decided to reach out to other schools and PTOs, and make it a district-wide event, so we could help more students throughout the year. Students need these items year round, in every part of Elkhart. This will allow schools to have access to hand them out to their students who need them. I know that when there is a larger, collaborative effort, it becomes more successful and rewarding.”

The group of PTO’s working together currently includes Feeser, Daly, Osolo, Beck, Hawthorne, Roosevelt, and Woodland. Tyrakowski has reached out to others and is still hoping to hear back, knowing that some schools may have their own projects already in the works with this being the first year.

The initiative kicked off with a “Stuff-A-Bus” event at Big R on November 17-18. The group will wrap up the holiday drives with another “Stuff-A-Bus” on December 15. Between now and then, people are encouraged to drop off items at one of the elementary schools above, Pierre Moran Middle School, West Side Middle School, Elkhart Central High School, Elkhart Memorial High School, the ECS Administration building, Boling Vision Center (Elkhart), or Big R in North Pointe Plaza. All items donated will stay in Elkhart and be distributed to students and families in need through the district’s social workers.

“The goal is to collect enough items to help provide students in need with food over the upcoming winter break, spring break, and as-needed throughout the school year,” said Tyrakowski. “I would love to see this group collect enough to last for the remainder of the school year.”

During her seven years of being involved with the Mary Feeser PTO, this is the first time Tyrakowski remembers such a widespread PTO collaboration, but she hopes it could lead to more down the road. “I would like to see our PTOs come together more often for the benefit of the community. We have a great, caring, and giving community. When we work together, everyone wins. I would love to see every elementary involved in academic competitions; those cost money and the corporation does not pay for it. This is an opportunity that I would love to see for every ECS student. If we worked collaboratively, we could help provide registration and equipment (chess boards, science materials, etc) to all the elementary and middle schools.”