Delivering School Supplies

Cold day for April, snowed the day before. Sunny day.
Met in Midtown and drove to Highland park. We were happy and excited to be dropping off the supplies.
The trunk, backseat, & Jezabel’s lap were full with supplies. The car was overflowing.

We exited off the expressway and drove through Highland park towards the school. We were surprised to see nice new apartment buildings across the street from utter decay. When we turned onto the street where the school is we weren’t sure we were in the right place. The GPS told us we had arrived, but we were sitting in front of apartments, but then we saw the addresses and knew we needed to go a little further.

Then we saw it. The sign for George Washington Carver Academy. At the front of a fenced in lot with a cinder block building with peeling paint, it was completely uninviting. As we pulled into the parking lot we saw 2 signs that said “Stop. Do not Enter.” We were joking that the school is probably on lock-down because we were driving circles around the parking lot.

We parked and grabbed a couple boxes. We headed to the only door we could see, but it was locked. A man came over right away and opened the door for us. He let us in, even though he told us we weren’t supposed to come in the door. He did make sure we weren’t carrying any explosives though. He pointed us down the hallway to sign in with the Security guard. We walked down the long winding hallway to his desk & he gruffly said “He let you in?”

He had us sign in, even though we didn’t have any children to sign in for, and we included the name 460 Supply Exchange. He took us to see Ms. ´┐╝Nefertari Nkenge. She greeted us warmly and enthusiastically. After introductions she told us we could drive past the foreboding stop sign and she would send strong men out to help us unload the supplies. She was extremely excited to see all the supplies as they were brought in, and even had to wipe away tears.

Ms. Nkenge took us to her office so that we could explain a little more about the project to her. After hearing our explanation of the process she ensured us that we were not stealing from the Ferris School. She became quite irate when we told her how there were still school supplies left behind in the abandoned school. She took a look at the website with us and seemed very impressed, she especially liked the donation button and offered to donate money to our cause immediately. We had to inform her that unfortunately the project had concluded. She told us that we are her “she-ros” and offered to take us around to distribute the supplies to students, while grabbing a box of tissues on the way out, because she would cry for sure. She couldn’t stop saying “Oh my goodness” and she thanked us more times than I can count. She even told us that she would put us & our gift into the school newsletter next month.

We declined her offer to hand out the supplies to the kids, figuring it would be better for the school to divvy it up fairly. She told us that they would need to take inventory of everything we brought, so we quickly walked her through all the supplies and she seemed even more impressed as we opened each new box. Before that moment I don’t think she had realized that we were able to address every item on the wish list that she had given us. She told us that now that could actually implement an art curriculum at the school. We grabbed a quick photo with her before leaving and she mentioned that we could have had a photo with the board members, but they were all currently in a meeting.

In stark contrast to the foreboding exterior when we walked in absolutely everyone greeted us with a warm smile and a friendly “hi.” Even when we weren’t with a staff member students and faculty warmly greeted us.

While driving back to midtown we noticed that the George W. Ferris School is less than half a mile from the George Washington Carver Academy School. Although that is not exactly surprising given the fact that the city of Highland Park is only one square mile.

460 Supply Exchange by 460 Supply Exchange