Oak Forest resident Amber Branum met HISD wrap-around specialist Kirkland Hall last year when she was looking for a way to help underserved schools. Hall is the wrap-around specialist for Highland Heights Elementary and also the football coach at Booker T. Washington High School.
Hall reached out to Branum for help getting equipment for the team, stemming from everyday workout clothes to 7-man sleds.
“Many large equipment items are very worn down and some items went missing upon the move to the new school,” said Branum. The school does not have a PTO but does have a Booster Club, which is a 501(c)3 and is the group that Branum worked with to facilitate donations.
Branum and others used social media via the local HISD Outreach Community Facebook page, Oak Forest Homeowners Facebook page, the Garden Oaks Facebook page, and the Nextdoor app.
“My next step was to start approaching local businesses for help as well,” said Branum.
Response was immediate and generous. Workout Dri-Fit Shirts and Shorts were donated by the Avilas, Avila-Eadys families as well as Pamela Johnson, Ann Thompson, Elyse Rouzan and Cynthia Torchia in Shepherd Park Terrace; by Peter and Kathy Chang and Amy Will in Garden Oaks; and by Tania Kanga, Lisa Sonnonstine, Karen Zorn and Matt and Amber Branum in Oak Forest.
Garden Oaks’ Michael Dreiss and Susan Ericksen Kosteleky purchased additional clothing and community members Murphy & Vickers, PC and Aitu Pham Taubes donated a 1-man sled.
Special thanks goes to Suzanne Saltzer Saraceni, Claudia Avila, Michael Dreiss, and all the families who helped to purchase any items off the Wish List and to Claudia Avila who pre purchased workout clothes.
Items which are still needed include football uniforms and cleats for 40 teammates, a Football Pop Up Dummy, a Half-Round Football Dummy, Rolling Dry Erase Boards and Football Equipment, such as 7-man sleds, 5-man sleds and a 2-man sled. Sizes for cleats will be on Amazon Wish List.
Other items are needed which need to be directed through the Booster Club. Those include an afterschool nutritional fund, catered meals for students and workers for Friday Nights as well as financial donations. The contact for the Booster Club is Lorraine Gibbs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The response has been wonderful,” said Branum. “But we need more community and business support.”
For more ways to help, please contact Amber Branum at email@example.com.