Nearly half of the elementary students in the Sioux Falls School District qualify for free and reduced lunch. That number of middle school students that qualify isn’t far behind. It’s a good indicator of just how many families are living in poverty. That’s why a local business owner needs your help to make a difference in the district so students, regardless of income, have the chance at a good education.
You usually see Steve Hildebrand behind the counter at Josiah’s Coffeehouse. Now he’s on the frontlines, helping kids living in poverty. It’s something he says he knew all too well growing up.
“My father died when I was five. I was the youngest. There was still seven kids at home with my mom and we struggled,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand talks about this in a recent Facebook post. Over the years, Hildebrand has researched poverty rates in the schools. According to the Sioux Falls School District, almost 50 percent of elementary students qualify for free and reduced lunch. At some schools, including Lowell Elementary, 100-percent of students qualify for that assistance.
“There’s a lot of people struggling in Sioux Falls and across the state and across the country and we’ve got to do some things to help them,” Hildbebrand said.
Hildebrand is starting a non-profit. Right now, he’s working with schools like Lowell to see what students need to be successful in class.
“There’s a lot of needs, you know, winter coats for kids who don’t have them. Helping provide for more books so these kids can have more assistance in reading,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand says, so far, his project has been able to accomplish a few different goals. One includes donating one book per month for nine months to all 421 students at Lowell.
“We have nothing but gratitude for Steve Hildebrand and really a whole host of people,” Brian Maher, Sioux Falls School District superintendent, said.
This effort is still very early in its process, but Hildebrand urges you to donate directly to schools in need so students can have a quality education.
Hildebrand says, so far, his project has been able to do a few good deeds. That includes donating one book per month for nine months to all 421 students at Lowell. While he sets up his non-profit, you can still donate. You can talk with him at Josiah’s or email him at email@example.com.