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Back-To-School:  Oliver’s Story

Kurt Alme, President

Kurt Alme, President Yellowstone Foundation

Dear Friend:

Remember your first day of school?

My mom took me to the store to be sure I had clothes that fit and didn’t have holes. She also made sure that I had the school supplies I needed. I wasn’t worried about fitting in with the other kids. I was looking forward to seeing my old friends and making new ones.

Unfortunately, that is not every child’s experience. Most of the children who come to school at Yellowstone Academy on the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch campus are poor. Often, their families can’t afford food and the rent. To them, new clothes and school supplies are luxuries.

Can you imagine walking into class on your first day of school with clothes that
are too small and have holes, and not having a pencil, crayons, paper or a notebook? Excitement could easily be replaced with embarrassment.

OLIVER’S STORY   Embarrassed is how Oliver* felt when he first arrived at Yellowstone Academy.

Heptner Education Center at YBGR

Oliver comes from a very poor family. His parents are divorced. Sometimes he lives with his mom and her boyfriend. Sometimes he shares a room with his dad, brother, grandma and a cousin in a small house owned by his aunt and uncle. This is better than the garage in which Oliver used to live.

His mom works in fast food and his dad is unemployed. They often don’t provide adequate food or clothing for Oliver. He would come to school wearing his dad’s pants or his uncle’s shoes. He was usually pretty dirty.

Not surprisingly, he struggled at school. He had outbursts of violence and aggression. He didn’t do his homework so his grades were poor. Eventually he was diagnosed with several emotional disorders and he was sent to Yellowstone Academy. He rode the bus there every school day.

When he arrived, he was embarrassed that his clothes were dirty and that he didn’t have basic school supplies.  He was also embarrassed because he was hungry. But the teachers and staff quickly took care of him. They made sure that he got a shower if he needed it. If he hadn’t eaten they would get him breakfast, and they would send him home with food. They would also give him clothes from the clothing room.

With his basic needs met, Oliver’s natural curiosity is returning and he is learning more. His teachers say he does well with hands-on learning in science. He likes to draw and is a very creative writer. He is proving to be kind and caring, artistic and intelligent.

PLEASE HELP     You can help more poor children like Oliver receive the education they need to reach their potential. Showing up the first day of school without required pencils, paper and a backpack can be embarrassing.

With your help, the Ranch plans to provide “Back to School Kits” for needy students at Yellowstone Academy and children in the Ranch’s community based service programs. Kits for the elementary school students contain things like Elmer’s glue, a pink eraser and crayons. Kits for the older students include a basic calculator, notebooks and ballpoint pens.

We invite your help! The elementary school kits cost about $95 and the high school kits cost about $140.  Please consider making a generous gift to help as many students as possible.

For the Kids,

Kurt Alme

*Name changed to protect individual’s confidentiality.