Janesville41.2°

Youngsters boost Janesville save-the-schools effort

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
June 7, 2011
— Troy Doely Jr. came home one day and asked his mother if he could ask the neighbors for donations to help his school.

Sure, Melissa Doely told the 7-year-old.


Troy and his brother Michael, 12, brought home the donations from two neighbors and asked if they could go up and down Franklin Street, near their home.


“I said OK, as long as you two go together,” Melissa said.


So out they went, canvassing three or four blocks, both sides of the street. All but one family dropped money into their big plastic popcorn container.


Their father, Troy Sr., helped them bring a donation container to a neighborhood gas station, and the family also asked for donations at their church.


A friend who tithes contributed 10 percent of her weekly check to the cause, as did the Doelys themselves.


The effort in a neighborhood not noted for its affluence—nearly all Wilson students are from low-income families—netted $300.


The entire school collected $1,000 and presented a check to Mike Rundle of Save Janesville Schools on Friday.


Rundle praised the effort and said he wished a lot more schools would do the same.


There are a few other efforts around the district.


Adams School is having a penny drive, and Craig High is selling “hero hats,” Rundle said.


Wilson teacher Jen Drach said a parent suggested the fundraiser, so she put a jar in her classroom to collect coins and invited other teachers to do the same.


Drach was flabbergasted when she heard Troy had brought in his first check, for $150.


Drach said the outpouring was probably the result of a number of factors. Although teachers don’t talk a lot about it, the students know that some of their teachers are facing layoffs, and they also had heard the news that Wilson was on a list of schools being considered for closing, although no decision has been made.


Then, there was the attraction of an ice cream party for the class that collected the most.


For the Doelys, the overriding motivator was saving their school.


“We refuse to give up Wilson because it’s more than a school,” Troy Sr. said.


Wilson takes care of families, and along with the Boys & Girls Club, it’s all the neighborhood has to hang its hopes on after the demise of the General Motors plant, Troy Sr. said.


“I can’t say enough about the teachers,” Melissa added. “I just love them all.”


Michael said helping was important to him, even though he has moved on from Wilson to Edison Middle School.


“I really like this school, and I wanted to help out,” Michael said.


“We want it to be here for his little sister to go to,” Melissa said, referring to their 3-year-old.


The Doelys are working-class people, like much of the neighborhood. Melissa is a machine operator at the Birdseye plant in Darien. Troy Sr. takes care of the home and coaches pee wee football at Wilson in the fall.


Drach said the prospect of asking low-income kids to raise money gave her pause, but it wasn’t the first time the Wilson community has stepped up to the plate, she said.


A fundraiser for those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti, for example, also exceeded expectations.


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The Save Janesville Schools fundraising effort had raised $57,471 in cash as of Friday.


The effort, which seeks to save Janesville School District jobs and programs, also had collected $65,342 in pledges from district employees. That money will be deducted from employees’ paychecks during the course of next school year.


Those numbers do not include $900 that SJS received Friday from Dave Mansur of Realty Executives. Mansur had pledged a donation for every house he sold. It also does not include Wilson School’s $1,000.


The fundraiser will continue into next fall and probably through next year because of ongoing need.


To donate, send checks to the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, 26 S. Jackson St., Janesville, WI 53548. Or, donate online at cfsw.org/savejanesvilleschools.asp.
For more information, contact Save Janesville Schools by email at SaveJanesvilleSchools@gmail.com or via its Facebook page, or contact the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, (608) 758-0883.

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