LINCOLN — Lincoln Bright Futures thanked the community Oct. 29 for stepping up to meet students’ needs during the past year.
“It’s been a great year,” said Jana Claybrook, Lincoln schools’ learning services director. “Bright Futures did not shut down during the pandemic.”
Claybrook serves on the Bright Futures advisory board, along with community members and others from the school district.
The board held an appreciation luncheon in the community room at the district’s administration office to celebrate a generous community and success stories from the past year.
“Really what we’re doing is involving the community in the lives of our students,” Claybrook said. “We believe in the future of Lincoln kids.”
Lincoln joined the national Bright Futures organization, based out of Joplin, Mo., in May 2015. Lincoln is one of about 70 communities in eight states that sponsors a program.
The goal of Bright Futures is to have every child’s basic needs met so that he or she can achieve success and graduate. People from the community are encouraged to help meet these needs through their “time, talent or treasures.”
Needs are posted on the Lincoln Bright Futures Face-book page for the community to see. The objective is to meet these needs within 24 hours.
Claybrook highlighted some success stories since March 2020. Bright Futures did not have a 2020 luncheon because of covid-19.
When schools closed to in-person learning in March 2020, Lincoln continued to deliver meals to students throughout the rest of the school year and during the summer. Meals were either delivered to homes or drop-off locations in the county.
From March to August 2020, the school delivered 209,000 meals, Claybrook said.
This was not possible, she said, without the district’s transportation department headed by director Deon Birkes, Aramark and the nutrition staff, bus drivers, school staff, students and many volunteers.
In May, the district purchased a snow cone truck with the assistance of donations and Cox Communications to help with the future for Lincoln graduate A.J. Valdez.
Valdez, who was diagnosed with autism as a young child, had said he wanted to have his own snow cone truck one day. The district and Bright Futures made that happen, Claybrook said.
Lincoln also is one of the participating districts in a program called Essentials Outreach. On the third Saturday of the month, the program provides essentials, such as shampoo, laundry detergent and soap, to about 40 families.
Another Bright Futures event, the annual Back to School Bonanza, provides a backpack, shoes and socks and other school supplies to children each year. For 2021, the bonanza served 286 kids.
The district filled 500 other needs last year, Claybrook said. These needs included food, shoes and socks, undergarments, gift cards for prescriptions, paying $850 worth of water bills, repairing the truck of a high school student and providing a pair of contact lenses for another high school student.
Bright Futures sponsored two fundraisers during the year to raise money to help meet needs. One was during the Chicken Rod Nationals Car Show and the other during the Arkansas Apple Festival. Cash donations from organizations, businesses and individuals also help meet needs.
Kim Vann, executive director with Bright Futures USA, attended the luncheon and said Lincoln is considered a model community nationwide for Bright Futures.
“This community always comes out every time,” Vann said. “We love this community, and it’s a bright spot to be able to visit.”
The Bright Futures celebration luncheon in the past has been held closer to Thanksgiving. With it, guests are encouraged to pick out an angel from the angel tree to provide a child with gifts for the Christmas holiday.
Carrie Provence, Bright Futures board member, said the decision was made to host the luncheon earlier this year because of reports about backlogs with the supply chain. This way, she said, guests could select their angel and start shopping sooner.
For 2021, the angel tree has about 300 children of all ages on it.
Lynn Kutter can be reached by email at [email protected] .