Businesses step up to the plate in tough times

Financially speaking, times are tight. School districts are feeling the squeeze thanks, in large measure, to the inescapable budget cuts being passed down from the state. That, in turn, means academic programs and extracurricular activities face cuts, leaving students with a lesser scholastic experience.

One interesting solution taps into the goodwill of the community. Businesses can underwrite school programs and activities so students can afford to participate in class trips or special class projects.

One example is a recent series of trips to area colleges for students interested in pursuing higher education. Webutuck had the trips planned and the students signed up, but there was no money for transportation. It appeared the trip was a bust. Until Silo Ridge Country Club stepped in and offered a $3,000 grant to pay for transportation.

"Hopefully other businesses will see that and get involved and the concept will grow over time," said Silo Ridge General Manager Rob Caeners.

We hope so, too. For a business to intervene on behalf of the students was really something special. And this is not the first time Silo Ridge has stepped forward. It donated items to the Webutuck Central School District, including tables and chairs for the student lounge area, basketball, golf and sports equipment, the golf course to practice on as well as Caeners himself as a golf coach.

And other businesses have helped with donations to the school district that allowed its students to excel when otherwise they would have lagged behind. Shop teacher John Roccanova — the mastermind behind the plan to enlist businesses to help underwrite school programs in the first place — named a few of the entrepreneurs he’s worked with in his shop class alone.

"I’ve always gotten very positive responses from businesses," he said. "Silo Ridge has stepped up even before [the budget] got very tight. Westchester Modular Homes, Four Corners Woodworking, local contractors, Jamie LaLiberte’s furniture restoration, Herrington’s — they’ve all helped out."

Hopefully this is just the beginning of the list; and it’s a list of people and businesses that deserve to be recognized and thanked for donating time and money without any expectations of payback. It should be noted though, that by helping fund school activities businesses do benefit, from the good publicity, the tax write-offs, future relations with the students when they join the workforce and, of course, the knowledge that something positive was done to help many. Remember, what goes around comes around, and in an economic climate like today’s, schools need all the help they can get, be it public or private. And when you help the schools, you’re really helping the students, who deserve the best opportunities available so that they can make the most of their futures.

If you’re looking for a way to invest, or thinking about how to contribute to the local schools, at least consider it. It doesn’t have to be money and if it is, it doesn’t have to be much. But keep it on your list, because it’s a worthy investment. Regardless of which school district you’re a part of, it all boils down to the same reality — the students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. Let’s help provide them with as much support as is possible.

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