A small plaque adorns the wall at the Malibu Feed Bin. It bears a photo featuring the smiling faces of Bev Price’s kindergarten class at Webster Elementary. Similar plaques can be found elsewhere in the city. Each says “Thank you for adopting our class.” What they mean is:Thank you for helping us buy supplies we need to help us learn.
“It enables us to have things that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to have,” said Price. “We bought a water table and a video/book stand” with the Feed Bin’s $300 donation. Price says past donations have paid for software and computer supplies. “It’s a great thing,” said Price. “We always appreciate it.”
“We do have an obligation to put back into the community,” said Martin Morehart, who has owned the Malibu Feed bin for 33 years. He says helping local schools seems the most appropriate way to accomplish that goal in Malibu. “There seems to be a few areas in Malibu where you can help, and that’s one of them. I don’t like to get into a wine-and-cheese deal,” he added. “I’m not looking for something with a great social element.”
Webster’s Adopt-a-Class program was started three years ago when parent Mary Ellen Sherry read about a similar program in a national magazine. “I thought, ‘This makes sense,'” she said. “This is a way for some of these businesses to be involved with our school.” Sherry, who is the Webster PTA’s Financial Vice President, says the program benefits the businesses as well as the school because it creates a “collective spirit” when businesses and schools share in the community’s enrichment. “We’re a small town with all the adversity. We have to pull together as a community,” Sherry said.
But not all donations come from local businesses. Some come from families. Judith Schley donated $1,900 this year to Webster’s Gardening Angels program, even though her child has moved on to middle school. “I like knowing that these kids have had the very best of everything,” Schley said. “If the schools can’t afford it, the community should.”
Harry and Sharon Barovsky donated $500 to the library, even though their children are grown. “We have a strong sense of loyalty to the school system in Malibu and most assuredly Webster. Our children went there and received fine educations.”
Sherry says the Adopt-a-Class program has been gaining speed ever since its inception, with donations up 25 percent over last year. She says this increase helped accommodate the additional classroom added to the school this year and allowed for expansion into other programs such as Instrumental Music. In a letter to sponsor Malibu Seafood, music teacher Steve Ravaglioli wrote, “I’m in the process of building a video and CD library for the instrumental music students.”
Teachers say Adopt-a-Class funds have paid for a wide range of things, from equipment to hatch chickens to water rations and emergency supplies. In the future, Sherry says she hopes the program will bring more science presentations, more art and more art studios to the school.