Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s (BCBSNE) school supply drive for Conestoga Elementary was back in session this year with the need greater than ever for donations.

“Many families are struggling to pay bills, so money for school supplies is not available,” said Mindi Struck, agile project manager at BCBSNE and drive volunteer.

Even though they weren’t in the office, BCBSNE employees worked together to collect supplies, including crayons, folders, notebooks and more, for Conestoga Elementary. Employees could either adopt a teacher or classroom and pick up all the supplies on their adoptees list or donate for organizers to buy the supplies.

“Fourteen classrooms and 13 teachers were adopted,” said Dana Siek, BCBSNE enterprise product owner and drive volunteer. “We also got $610 in donations and were able to purchase school supplies for kids in classrooms that were not adopted and for the teachers who were not adopted.”

BCBSNE met all 400 students’ supply needs.

Teams were creative in how they managed purchasing the goods. For example, the company’s Young Professionals Connect group placed 50 Amazon orders of donations for Conestoga Elementary.

“We had a goal of adopting 10 teachers and five classrooms total,” said Karah Thompson, agile project manager at BCBSNE and Young Professionals Connect group member. “We collected 29 sets of crayons, 20 sets of colored pencils, 80 spiral notebooks, safety scissors, glue sticks and pencils for classrooms and 10 sets of whiteboard markers and erasers, sticky notes, Kleenex, stickers, pens and index cards for teachers.”

Instead of the usual distribution method, which in years past enabled students to “shop” for supplies in a store setup at the school, bags were filled with supplies based on the students’ grades and then handed out on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

“The school had worked out a system in which teachers handed out paperwork while families were in a car line,” said Struck. “They filled out the paperwork and exchanged that with their bag of supplies once they reached the front of the line. Once the teachers or administrators collected the completed paperwork, they radioed the student’s information, so their supplies could be run out by a teacher or volunteer. It was quite the setup.”

Conestoga Elementary begins remote learning on Aug. 17 as directed by Omaha Public Schools.

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