In early December, Confluence Charter Schools was notified that a donor was providing money to help families in need, approximately $1,000 per school. Counselors and social workers were asked to identify students and their families in need. Then, about a week later, the amount of the donation increased, allowing each school to have $2,500 to work with for the families. The donor, however, was kept under wraps until everything was confirmed.
There are five campuses within the Confluence network – Confluence Academy-Old North, Confluence Academy-South City, Aspire Academy, Confluence Preparatory Academy and Grand Center Arts Academy. Confluence educates nearly 3,000 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Nearly 98 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch; some families do not have stable housing and move often; others live in high-crime neighborhoods and there are about 200 students throughout the network who are homeless.
To make sure there would be enough time to shop for gifts, wrap and deliver, Confluence set a deadline of 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 11 for the schools to submit a list of holiday wishes. No less than five families were identified by each campus; a few families have as many as 9 children. And the children thought not only of themselves, but their siblings who aren’t in school and their parents.
Over the weekend, staff shopped for items from the lists – crayons, Barbies, stuffed toys, basketballs, footballs, snow boots, athletic shoes, uniform tops and pants, socks, backpacks, art supplies, board games, coloring books, activity books, journals, Legos, a scooter and an AirStick skateboard, boxes of diapers, children’s clothes, nail polish and lip gloss sets, head bands, bath towels and bed sheets, Easy Bake Ovens and cotton candy machines. There are gift cards to stores like Walmart, Target, Burlington and Famous Footwear ranging in value from $20 to $150. The donation also helped buy socks, underwear and toiletries for the schools to keep in their community closets for students.
No longer an anonymous donor, Centaur Building Services – a contract vendor of Confluence – explained their decision to help students.
“Giving back to the community is a personal mission of our family and the Centaur Building Services family of companies,” said Janine Dulay, president of Centaur. “We have always been committed to furthering the mission of organizations that help others. A large portion of our proceeds go to mission groups of which we are personally involved that build orphanages in Mexico, dig fresh water wells in India, build schools, hospitals and churches in villages all over the world, as well as supporting organizations right here in our own backyard such as St. Louis Crisis Nursery and many others in the area.
“At a recent meeting at Confluence, it was disclosed that there are about 200 children in their schools who are homeless. Frank Joubert, our CEO, and I were deeply touched by this revelation and we discussed the opportunity to help with Confluence.”
“Being raised in a very poor home and being a product of the inner city public school system, our family knows all too well the challenges and desperation these families feel when it comes to providing even the basic necessities for their children. It was an automatic reaction. We knew we had to help,” she continued. Dulay and Joubert are brother and sister.
“If we show support, understanding and compassion for those in need, it is our hope that we inspire them to continue that behavior throughout life, where they become productive, contributing members of society who find the joy in paying it forward,” said Dulay.
“We are grateful and thankful for Centaur’s generosity,” said leaders of Confluence Charter Schools. “It shows their dedication to our students and the community. We may never know the full impact of their gift, but we do know it will make this holiday special for some of our students and families.”