“Coats and mittens” are how the NEARI Children’s Fund started, but no one has helped it grow into the force it is today more than Fund Coordinator Val Staples.
“Coats and mittens” is how the NEARI Children’s Fund started, but no one has helped it grow into the force it is today more than Fund Coordinator Val Staples. The United Way recognized her efforts with its 2016 Dante Mollo Labor Award, honoring her at the organization’s 90th Annual Celebration October 13, along with corporate, young leader, and lifetime service awardees.
Said NEARI Vice President Val Lawson, “The Children’s Fund illustrates our commitment to educating the whole child and Val is the remarkable individual who makes this happen. She works tirelessly all year long to meet the needs of those children who are in need. Her efforts allow children across the state to receive whatever item they need or deserve to feel loved.”
The NEARI Children’s Fund helps needy public school students who come to school with challenges that impair their ability to learn. This could be clothing, eyeglasses, medication, school equipment, or household supplies such as food or bedding. Staples has led the Children’s Fund for 23 of her 29 years on staff at NEARI. Each year, she manages day-to-day requests from members around the state, which could involve fielding phone calls, contacting any variety of vendors, procuring gift cards or items, and arranging delivery.
…and year-to-year events
Staples manages special projects such as the holiday Gingerbread Express program, which matches approximately 2,000 students per year with anonymous donors willing to provide gifts when families cannot. She also organizes two fundraisers annually: “March Magic,” which encourages locals to design their own event, and a golf tournament every July.
In her acceptance speech, Staples said, “I am honored and humbled by this award and accept it on behalf of NEARI members who work tirelessly to ensure that our needy students do not fall through the cracks.”