Will you ‘Give 10’ hours each month to Fayette County Schools?

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Fayette County schools Superintendent Manny Caulk asked people in Lexington on Thursday to volunteer at district schools for as much as 10 hours each month.

Through the new Give 10 program, “there are ways that every single person who lives and works in Fayette County can help — no matter where you live, how much you make or what level of education you have,” Caulk said at a news conference at Harrison Elementary School. “We’re inviting everyone — individuals, businesses, faith-based organizations, colleges and universities, members of the athletic and arts community, civic groups, retirees, public service professionals, service clubs, fraternities and sororities, and more — to get involved to make this effort a success.”

Schools’ needs include reading to students, cleaning school grounds, donating clothes, and providing child care so parents can go to teacher conferences. Schools also need volunteers in libraries, classes and offices; chaperones for field trips; tutors; and volunteers who eat lunch and breakfast with students. There are long-term commitments and one-time activities. District officials will match volunteers with requests for help.

“Our students need you,” Caulk said Thursday. “They need your time. They need your talent. They need to know that you want the same things for them that you want for your own children. And they need to know that you believe they can succeed.”

United Way of the Bluegrass will partner with district officials for the Give 10 program by helping with volunteer recruitment and marketing. United Way will focus on recruiting volunteers through local business and nonprofit partnerships.

“This is a call to action,” United Way CEO and president Bill Farmer said. “Many of our kids need a mentor to help guide them onto a successful path. ...Community engagement is the cornerstone of any thriving school system, and we believe that Lexington is up for the challenge.”

Caulk said he hears from many people who want to help but don’t know how to get involved. He said Give 10 is the answer.

Other organizations that have agreed to help include the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University, the 16th District PTA, Lexmark, Toyota and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Give 10 is one of several initiatives the district is trying to reduce the achievement gap between low-income students, disabled students or children of color and other students.

At Harrison, there are volunteers from Altrusa, Christ Church Cathedral, Christ United Methodist Church and the Kiwanis Club, but Caulk said schools need more help.

In the past 10 years, the school district has grown from 35,000 students to more than 41,000. In that time, the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch has risen from 41 percent to 54 percent, he said.

Marsha Bloxsom said she is one of about 25 volunteers from Christ Church Cathedral who help students with reading.

Harrison students have increased their reading proficiency, “and we want to maintain and excel,” principal Tammie Franks said.

Sean Kipfler, a fourth-grade student at Harrison, said he hoped more people would volunteer.

“They have helped me learn about music, suggestions about life, helping me to figure out what I want to be when I grow up,” he said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

How to help

If you are interested in helping, go to Give10fcps.com or call 859-381-4483.