When CRW Graphics approached Kaitlyn Muller, director of Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services, to donate thousands of copybooks, Muller saw the potential to impact an even broader population beyond the refugee clients her program serves.
“I saw it as a great opportunity to extend the generosity of CRW Graphics to the broader community — to be of service to the Catholic community that supports us and the public schools that partner with us,” Muller said.
The Pennsauken-based printing company donated 3,540 single-subject copybooks with personalized covers, designed in collaboration with Catholic Charities to look like mobile devices, complete with images of school subject “apps” and Catholic Charities’ logo and website. The company also donated 17,000 bookmarks.
“We here at CRW Graphics, and the owners Larry and Harriet Weiss, really believe in community service and giving back to the community. It’s one of our top priorities,” said Peg Brennan, purchaser for the company who facilitated the donation to Catholic Charities.
About 240 of the copybooks will remain with Catholic Charities to supplement their programs, particularly the Refugee Resettlement program’s English as a Second Language classes, offered five days a week to adult refugees. The rest will be donated to local Catholic parishes and schools and public schools who serve refugee children, 20 institutions in all.
“Every community has people in need and that’s reflected in the enthusiasm with which the schools said they would love to receive these notebooks,” said Priscilla Adams, Refugee Academic Success Coordinator for Catholic Charities, who coordinated the donation.
“It’s wonderful outreach that we’re able to do as Catholic Charities. It builds links with the public schools and the Catholic schools and parishes alike,” Adams said.
Ron Tarchichi is principal and superintendent of the Woodlynne School District, home to four refugee children from Burma whose families were resettled by Catholic Charities. The Woodlynne School will receive 400 copybooks, enough to give one to every student in the school.
“We serve a lot of students with financial needs. These notebooks will really benefit our students,” Tarchichi said. “Writing opens up a different avenue of brain development. These notebooks are going to enable our students not only to learn better but also to study more intelligently.”
Observing the refugee students within his district, Tarchichi said he has been impressed with the unique perspective they bring to their U.S.-born classmates.
“Our students have no idea how fortunate they really are. It sheds a new perspective on what they know about kids coming from other countries,” Tarchichi said.
“Burma itself is a war zone. These students are coming from that area, and they’re doing phenomenally. Some of them are starting to surpass their counterparts who have grown up in this country. It changes the dynamic of the building when the other students see how grateful they are to be in our education system.”
As academic success coordinator, Adams’ role is to support all of the refugee children whose families have been resettled in the region as they adjust to their new schools.
“We try to provide them with the resources they need to do well in their new environment,” Adams said. “That’s what these notebooks stand for — they’re the kinds of resources that we take for granted. And we want to do as much as we can to support things to with language, with writing and reading. These are things that will help them with English and help them move forward.”