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South Allegheny teachers solicit donations online

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 2:41 a.m.
South Allegheny teacher Jennifer Rea browses through books with kindergartners at the Early Childhood Center on Monday. The books will be awarded as bingo prizes during literacy activities in March.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
South Allegheny teacher Jennifer Rea browses through books with kindergartners at the Early Childhood Center on Monday. The books will be awarded as bingo prizes during literacy activities in March.

South Allegheny teachers are using an online fundraising tool to support student activities and wellness initiatives.

Early Childhood Center kindergarten teacher Jennifer Rea is the district's most recent recipient of classroom materials through the website DonorsChoose.org, which lists projects requesting public support from across the country.

Donors can view online profiles of the projects when choosing where they want their funds to go.

Rea applied for books that will be given as prizes during a “Read Across America” bingo for the school's kindergarten through second-grade students.

Students will host a birthday party for Dr. Seuss on March 3, and teachers will focus on literacy and the joy of reading.

“We want to get books into the kids' hands,” Rea said. “They go to the library once a week, but they choose only one book at a time. If we can give them as many books as possible, maybe we can increase their love for reading.”

Students in Rea's class got a sneak peek at the books on Monday. They helped their teacher unpack boxes to organize the prizes.

“Some of the books are my favorite books,” Morgan Hale said.

Students said they share their love of reading with parents and older siblings. They are happy to be getting new books to read with their loved ones, and excited to practice reading on their own.

“It's important so you can learn how to read,” Kyiann Davis said.

Rea said she is one of many teachers in the district whose classes are benefiting from DonorsChoose.org.

Elementary teacher Jennifer Wachs began working with the website during the 2012-13 school year.

“A Book Can Get You to the Top,” which earned $265 in donor support in May, brought a monthly subscription of Scholastic Works to the school. The periodical supplements the fifth-grade language arts curriculum.

This year, Wachs secured $299 for “The Need for Knowledge … We are curious.” Materials include nonfiction science readers, science teaching resources and comprehension cards that can be used for years to come.

Wachs said she loves working with the website because the comments from donors are heartwarming.

“My first project had donations from all over the country,” she said. “Many were given in memory of their moms and were posted around Mother's Day. Some mentioned that their moms were from McKeesport or the Mon Valley and were avid readers.”

Teacher Amy Zombek invited all fourth-grade classrooms to take part in “Read and Succeed with Book Bingo.” The $956 project provided Newbery Winner and Newbery honor books.

In life skills classrooms, second- through sixth-graders are benefiting from “Sensory Solutions,” thanks to $375 sought by teacher Amber Haftman. The grant, which was implemented this year, provided for a sensory relaxation center with kaleidoscopes and chewy sticks.

The following projects still are seeking funds:

• “Next Stop, Station Express!,” kindergarten. Rea is seeking $281 for materials for student project stations in the classroom.

• “Germ Free in 2013,” first grade. Teacher Heather Farnan is seeking $250 for tissues, alcohol-free sanitizers, paper towels and other tools to stop the spread of germs.

• “A Need for Non-Fiction,” sixth grade. Jenna Whitney is seeking $394 for nonfiction materials.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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