Whitney Smith, a Cascade Middle School nurse, was thrilled to stock her refrigerator with cheese sticks Friday after a group of Wilcox and Flegel employees donated the snacks to the school.
“We have a growing population of poverty and needs ... clear down to general things like not being able to have breakfast in the morning,” said Smith, who uses cheese sticks to add protein to her students’ diets. “Everything (Wilcox and Flegel) has provided will go to kids with needs.”
The northwest fuel and lubricant distributor, which has Longview operations near the Port of Longview, donated several boxes of food, clothing, school supplies and personal hygiene products to the school. The company also gave out $200 worth of Payless Shoes gift certificates and a $500 check to buy additional goods for students.
The company reached out to the Longview district earlier this fall to ask how it could support students. In response, the district asked each school to make a “wish list” for items its students might need. Wilcox and Flegel selected a school based on these needs.
The long list submitted by Cascade caught the company’s attention.
“The nurse just really had an awareness of her students and the needs they have, and she truly had a heart for the kids,” said Rebecca Corbus, a credit department employee for the company. “She was very passionate about getting them what they need. That came through to all of us and made it fun to help work with her on that.”
Smith said she’s grateful for donation because she’s “always had a list in my mind,” but some of those items are rarely donated. Smith and the other school counselors said they personally buy food and clothing for students if the items are not currently stocked in the school’s clothes closet.
The wish list provided for many of the items — like underwear, socks, shoes, girls’ leggings and backpacks — are difficult to get through general donations, counselors said.
“Helping them now at this age can provide a better life for them in the future,” Smith said. “Giving them one thing less to worry about will help their education.”
The donations were collected in a collaborative effort by Wilcox and Flegel and its employees, Corbus said.
“We have a heart for wanting to help the kids in our community, and I think a lot of us here in the office are parents and have kids in our lives. We can relate to the challenges of getting them clothes and the stuff they need for school,” Corbus said.
The donation was spurred, in part, by an update to the Wilcox and Flegel mission statement. Corbus said the revisions focus on “creating lasting partnerships with the community.”
“Wilcox and Flegel has grown a lot over the years, but it’s still family-owned business and very much a local company that’s extremely dedicated to the community,” Corbus said. “After all this time, this is still our passion and still what makes us the company we are.”