The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of education as the key to a life of respect for human and civil rights.
On Thursday, Feb. 24, volunteers from NYSUT's Retiree Council 7 hope that King's message will touch the lives of Syracuse school children - with an unexpected gift of school supplies to inspire them to put that message to good use.
For the fifth year in a row, Retiree Council 7 will be on the forefront of a citywide effort to distribute bags of free school supplies to children in a downtown Syracuse neighborhood in honor of King and his belief in the power of education. The annual giveaway of pens, notebooks and other supplies is organized by the South Side Newsstand, where Council 7 member Bob Gardino, a retired Syracuse teacher, equips and sends forth a small army of volunteers. The volunteers, in turn, stand on street corners and give small bags of the supplies to children on their way home from school.
"The supplies are just a few things they can use, but the real value is the symbol of their education," Gardino said.
Gardino is backed by volunteer colleagues from Council 7, who gather or purchase school supplies over the course of the year to donate to the one-day distribution effort.
The council started participating in the school supply distribution five years ago because King "recognized that education made a difference," said RC 7 President Margo Buckingham.