School MasksCEO’s Corner
Shonda Schaefer

“What will happen when school starts?” That is the question I am fielding most often these days.

Traditionally, GRACE has worked with various community partners, companies, and individuals to make sure that ALL kids have the necessary tools they require to get off to a strong start in the fall. We provide backpacks, school supplies, clothing, and other essentials of “Back to School”. The reality is that 25% of the district’s 13,000 students are on Free/Reduced Lunch programs and families are faced with making decisions between basic needs and crayons. To that end, GRACE is dedicated to supporting these families.

However, the current state of our world has put educators into a tailspin. What will school look like? Can we return to the traditional classroom? Will children and educators be protected and safe? What would a virtual learning environment look like? These are difficult questions, and quite frankly, left to those much more qualified than me!

At the same time, delaying preparations for much-needed supplies would mean that we, here at GRACE, would be unable to provide even the most basic needs come fall. So, to that end, we are doing what we can right now to be prepared for whatever support our families require.

Rather than the traditional supply drives, GRACE is launching a Gift Card Drive. By collecting Walmart, Target, and Amazon gift cards in increments of $25, $50, and $100, we feel we can be flexible and responsive to the needs of our clients. These cards may be used to purchase crayons, paper, and backpacks…or masks, sanitizer, and gloves…or earbuds, flash drives, and other technology. Whatever reality we are living in come fall, GRACE will continue to be there to provide the best learning environment possible.

So in answer to the question, “What will happen when school starts?”, we say, “Whatever the environment, GRACE will be here. Ready, willing, flexible, and committed to helping families be successful!”

For those interested in helping these young children prepare for school, as well as other valuable supportive programming, we recommend e-gift cards to Walmart, Target, Amazon sent to:

If you would like to host a donation drive (virtually or otherwise), please contact Mark Woolverton, GRACE Chief Development Officer, at 972-743-8556, or CiCi Cates, GRACE Special Events Manager, at 817-305-4672.