Wilkinson Elementary, Sarasota, is a Title 1 School with an enrollment of 450 children in Pre-K through 5th grade.  The relationship between Wilkinson Elementary and Kiwanis began when Guidance Counselor Cara Soliday visited the South Sarasota Kiwanis Club in the fall of 2013.  She spoke to the members with the result that the South Sarasota members - led by Mary Lynn Desjarlais - launched the “Xmas Angels project” to ensure that students who might not otherwise receive presents would receive appropriate gifts.  (Several children asked for socks, underwear, and clothing – but most asked for toys.)  When the South and Siesta Clubs merged, the program continued.  During 2015, the 100 years anniversary of Kiwanis, the club voted to supply 100 children presents for our Xmas Angels project.  Our club has continued our commitment to help 100 children every year for this project.
 
In the fall of 2014 Mary Lynn Desjarlais suggested that Wilkinson run the Kiwanis branded program named “Bringing Up Grades” (BUGs for short).  Cara Soliday took the idea forward and BUGs was first run during the spring of the 2014-2015 school year.  The result was an increased student interest in academics.  The program was deemed a success and continued in 2015-2016 and is scheduled again for 2016-2017.
 
A new Principal (Susan Nations) came to Wilkinson during the summer of 2016.  She initiated an “Adopt a Classroom” program, asking parents and others to provide funding for individual classroom teachers so they could needed buy supplies.  Such supplies are often purchased by the teachers with their own money.  Our Kiwanis Club came forward and agreed to sponsor 8 classrooms.  As a result we were offered a seat on the Wilkinson School Advisory Committee (SAC for short).  Bill Irish takes that seat as of January 2017.
 
In the past, teachers have reported children in their classrooms with clothing issues – clothing not appropriate for winter temperatures, inappropriate size, damaged, etc.  The school administration has responded by scheduling a clothing drive for January.  Linda Prenosil is chairing our committee supporting the drive.
 
 
In summary:  Our Kiwanis Club’s support for Wilkinson Elementary has grown from the initial Xmas Angels to include BUGs, Adopt a Classroom, a SAC seat, and the children's clothing drive. That's because it’s what we do, we’re Kiwanians and “Kids Need Kiwanis.”
 
 
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