Community support for Fessenden Elementary

Donations from Lowell Correctional employees and local church help school fundraising.

Warden Paul Kish; Sgt. Jacquline Mike; Sgt. Tammy Swengel; Linda Ward, PTO President; Gwendolyn Haynes, 1st Treasurer; Thelma Archie, Volunteer; Alice Burton, 2nd Treasurer; Maj. David Lacob; Asst. Warden Denise Oudshoff; Lt. John Brower and Assistant Warden Chris Sapp. (not pictured) [Courtesy of Fessenden Elementary PTO]

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Posted March 27, 2024 | By Caroline Brauchler

The Parent Teacher Organization at Fessenden Elementary recently received a big surprise from some caring volunteers—a brand-new propane grill to cook for students, teachers and community members alike at future fundraising and school events.

PTO President Linda Ward expressed her gratitude to the many caring volunteers and supporters of Fessenden Elementary, saying that it takes a “community” to support the students, teachers and staff who call the school home.

“Things have been clicking for us and so we’re just so happy for the generosity of the community coming together to help us,” Ward said.

Each year, the PTO puts on several events to fundraise for the school, such as Spanish Heritage Celebrations, the Penguin Patch, Legacy Day Black History Month Celebration, Krispy Kreme Donut Sales and Teacher Appreciation Week.

The PTO invites volunteers to come help at events, so when Maj. David LaCob from the Lowell Correctional Institution wanted to work the grill at an event, his help was warmly welcomed.

“Maj. LaCob has a daughter who teaches at Fessenden, and so I guess one conversation led to another and he volunteered to do some grilling at the school,” Ward said. “For a second event, he got together with some of the other workers at the prison and they came and did the grilling at the Legacy Day event.”

At Legacy Day, the volunteers grilled hotdogs and hamburgers all day to fundraise for the school. These funds will help with school beautification, such as for the project to add a two-sided digital marquee to mark the entrance of the school.

After this event, Ward said the group of volunteers gathered funds together personally, went to the store and picked out a new propane grill and presented it to the school.

“They said, ‘Because you all have so many fundraisers and so many activities going on at the school, we all decided to get together to buy and donate the PTO a grill,’” Ward said.

A special thank-you goes to Sgt. Tammy Swengel for making this donation come to fruition,” Ward said.

Fessenden has a few things on their wish list that it hopes to use funds for, including clearing out and cleaning the roadway from County Road 25A to the railroad tracks, which leads to the school.

“It’s a historically Black school, so we’re trying to do the best we can with the resources that we have in the community’s interest,” Ward said. “They help us bring the school up to standard and ensure and help the community.”

But the generosity didn’t end there, Ward said. Shortly after the donation of the grill, another big gift was wheeled into Fessenden. Ward said Rev. Martin Smith from Progressive UnionMissionary Baptist Church donated a golf cart, something that the school identified a need for and would have had to purchase otherwise.

“Boy, we were so happy,’’ Ward said. “We ran out to the school and saw the golf cart, took pictures of the principal and got a video of her on the golf cart. She was so happy.”

The school also has expressed a need for materials and supplies that are needed for everyday use in the classroom for students.

“We go to every and anybody that will listen and help us all with our diverse community that we have in the school,” Ward said.

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