Community Involvement

Back-to-School Buddies

We all remember preparing for your first day of school: the excitement of a new teacher, seeing old friends, and shopping with mom and dad for all the newest school supplies.

Unfortunately, there are many children in the Milwaukee area who arrive for their first day without a backpack – much less school supplies.

To help alleviate this problem, Mortenson’s Milwaukee office organized and sponsored a kindergarten class at Brown Street Academy, a K-5 Milwaukee Public School located in the underprivileged inner city. We reached out to Mrs. Gallion, a kindergarten teacher with a full class of 30 four-year-old and five-year-old students. She said, “I love teaching. I love watching students grow and learn throughout the school year. Unfortunately, the lack of supplies in our classroom hinders their creativity and growth.”

We set out to give this class a fresh start for the new school year. Team members donated backpacks, crayons, pencils, erasers, scissors, glue sticks, pencil cases, and more. In early September, the Mortenson “School Bus” (two Mortenson pick-up trucks filled with gear!) pulled up to Brown Street Academy. Each child got to choose their own backpack filled with their very own school supplies. We had accumulated so many materials that we were also able to donate a large box of additional supplies to be distributed to other needy kids at the school.

“It’s amazing the smile you get from handing a child their very own box of crayons. Such a simple act brings such joy.” said Laurie Goehlen, one of Mortenson’s “Bus Drivers.”

The kindergartners were delighted with their new gear, and later that week sent hand-drawn thank you notes to the volunteer. “I can’t thank you enough for your kindness,” said Mrs. Gallion, “I watched one of my students hang his new backpack on his peg in the coatroom, and I could see the pride in his face. A small sacrifice on your behalf has made such a big difference for these kids.”

The wonder of learning starts early. With the right tools, resources, and encouragement, these great kids are off to a great start!