Cellphone texts connect the community with kids in need

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By signing up for a simple, weekly text message, purposity will enable you to help hundreds of desperate kids in your community through small donations such as shoes, sweaters, and other daily necessities.  – Wrangler News Photo

By Diana Nelson

You probably would help your neighbors, if only you knew what they needed.

That’s the concept behind a mobile-phone texting concept that’s making a big difference in the lives of Kyrene School District kids, says Leticia Beltran, a social worker who helps homeless families in the area.

The process is called “Purposity” and it’s an easy-to-use tool that provides donors with a text message detailing a specific request made by the student or their family. Students who receive the donated items must be enrolled in one of the 25 schools in the Kyrene district.

“Purposity combines the best part of giving because the donated item goes directly to the student who has made the request,” said Beltran, who is the program’s liaison for the district.

“For those in the community with a heart to be generous, it combines two purposes with ease: being generous with a specific purpose in mind.”

Beltran assembles her list of requests, which can be anything from school supplies to shoes, and prepares the text message.

“If you’re interested in donating, within just a few on-line clicks you can quickly check the item out through Amazon and it’s sent directly to the student,” said Beltran.

So far, Kyrene is the only school district in Arizona to use the phone application, and the donor list has attracted 824 active users, who so far have met 191 requests, just since September. The average price of a requested item is $30, but the upper limit is $250.

Beltran is in awe of the response to her weekly texts.

“I have never had a request go unfulfilled, and some are completed within an hour,” she said.

Beltran believes that the use of Purposity is a blessing to her because, instead of random donations that may not be used, each request is specific.

“I put in details like a boy needs a coat in a specific size and color, and that actually is what the child receives,” said Beltran.

“The identity of the student and the donor are kept confidential. The item is shipped from Amazon to the Kyrene district office; then I deliver it to the family.”

During the past four years in her position with the district, Beltran says she has encountered many families in crisis—some kids move frequently and stay with various family members or friends. Several complete families live in their cars, while another lost their home and all their possessions in a fire.

“For one family, while living in their vehicle, I was able to get each person a sleeping bag,” said Beltran.

She is reminded every day that the little things most people take for granted are what some need the most.

“Most of the requests are for the basics—shoes, clothing, bedding, bath towels. My job is to reach out to the families with kids enrolled in Kyrene who have special, economic challenges, which may hinder their ability to come to school and be ready to learn,” said Beltran.

She first learned about Purposity last year, she says, while attending a conference in Chicago. It was featured in a workshop that was actually her second choice because her first choice was already at capacity. But it was a fortuitous find.

“Sometimes when I make the delivery it’s received with tears of joy because the family is so appreciative of the gift,” said Beltran.

Kyrene Superintendent Dr. Jan Vesely agrees about the benefits.

“The generosity of the Kyrene community never fails to amaze me, but the speed at which our community answered this call was truly awe-inspiring.”

Added Vesely: “To be successful in school, we need to ensure our students’ needs are met at home.”

To become a Purposity donor, all that is needed is to visit the application’s website, www.purposity.com, enter a cell phone number and a zip code.

A weekly text alert will be sent to the registered phone to describe any requests.

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