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Sept. 27, 2019
This paid piece is sponsored by SDN Communications.
The students at Garfield Elementary and the employees are SDN Communications are neighbors who have built a special bond.
The school sits less than a mile from SDN’s headquarters in west-central Sioux Falls. The building that’s tucked into a residential neighborhood near 12th Street and Kiwanis Avenue serves almost 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, plus about 70 more in early childhood preschool.
Engaging artwork and messages that line the hallways encourage students daily to work on qualities such as responsibility, honesty and cooperating with others.
But many of Garfield’s families face challenges that go beyond schoolwork – a high percentage of them qualify for free or reduced-cost meals. The school also lacks a parent-teacher organization to help plan and lead special events and support students in other ways. So SDN employees have stepped in to help fill the gap.
The relationship formed in late 2017 when the company collected prizes for a bingo event that the school hosted for students and parents. Employees have since helped provide meals for teachers during parent-teacher conferences, led winter clothing drives for students, volunteered for Read Across America and helped with Field Day.
The relationship is now in its third school year. SDN recently donated $500 to Garfield – the same amount the company contributed last year – to help the school meet student needs that often go beyond the norm.
In the past, the school has used the donations for everything from buying classroom materials to paying student admission on field trips. In some cases, it has helped provide gym shoes for students struggling with worn-out or wrong-sized footwear.
Some of this year’s donation might be used for supplies to operate a washer and dryer that was gifted to the school by another business.
Kristin Skogstad is in her fourth year as Garfield’s principal. She said students and staff feel the love and support the company provides.
“We just really appreciate what SDN has done for our students and staff. I don’t know sometimes what we’d do without them,” Skogstad said. “Just knowing some people in our community care means so much to us. Hopefully, they know that.”
The people at SDN do know. Helping the school in small ways makes SDN and its employees feel good too. Much of what they give comes from an employee-controlled charity fund. Employees may buy Jeans Stickers for $5 per day to wear jeans at work Monday through Thursday – business casual is the usual style, but everyone can wear jeans on Fridays.
Susan Anacker, a commercial service delivery coordinator at SDN, serves on an employee committee and is the company’s liaison with Garfield. She said Skogstad has asked what the school can do for SDN.
“Honestly, we just want them to keep paying it forward. Do good in the community. Help by being positive role models and have a positive influence,” Anacker said.
The company does have a visual reminder of its relationship with Garfield. Students created an abstract painting to help say thanks to the company. It now hangs in a break room at SDN.
In the past, businesses such as Tomacelli’s Pizza & Pasta have teamed up with the company to provide meals for special events at Garfield. Employee leaders at SDN would like to see even more companies get involved with and support their neighborhood school.
Skogstad, for example, would like to line up more businesses that would be willing to host small groups of students. She said the experience of touring a business or going on special leadership lunch as a reward can have a powerfully beneficial, long-term impact on students.
Businesses that would like to get involved and help students may call the school at 605-367-6180.
SDN Communications is a regional leader in providing broadband connectivity and cybersecurity services to businesses in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, Minn., and the surrounding areas.
Students and teachers at Garfield Elementary School face some challenges — including the lack of a parent-teacher organization to help out and plan activities. But look what happened when their neighbors at SDN Communications stepped in.