PAGE, Ariz. - More than 100 students in Page schools went to class last week with the supplies they need but probably would not have been able to afford without help from Navajo Generating Station (NGS) employees.
On the job, Debi Marquis and Angie Gamble see to the administrative needs of NGS's top managers. But on their own time, they take care of people in need wherever they find them.
The NGS school supply drive grew from the two seeing such a need among dozens of Page school children whose families may not be able to afford the basic necessities a student needs to take to school. This includes a backpack for books, crayons, pencils, erasers, notebooks and, in some cases, clothes.
Last week, with about $1,500 in donations and supplies from NGS employees, the women recruited other NGS staff, shopped at local stores and delivered filled backpacks to Lake View Primary, Desert View Intermediate, Page Middle School, Page High School and the Page Regional Domestic Violence Services.
"We packed 100 backpacks," Marquis said.
In addition to school supplies, the backpacks held a healthy snack for the students to eat.
"I would go into the classrooms and see kids who have no lunch," Gamble said.
It's not uncommon for teachers to send notes home asking for donations of hand sanitizer, Kleenex and snacks, she said.
"And there would be kids who couldn't bring snacks, especially kids who ride the bus from far away," Gamble said. "I just thought we can help them in some way. We shouldn't be asking for things from kids who can't afford it and are hungry at home."
Lake View Elementary School Principal Cathy Erickson said her students are delighted to receive a backpack with the supplies they need.
"They're usually really surprised and happy. It's like an early Christmas present," she said. "I'm really grateful that they've started a project like this. A lot of our students are living in poverty. This helps them fit in and have a positive outlook on school, so it really benefits our students."
Page Regional Domestic Violence Services Family Services Leader Jeane'e Green said the school supply drive has been empowering for their clients.
"Most of our clients aren't able to afford to buy school supplies, and this was able to supply that need," she said. "We appreciate the support of everyone at NGS for what they give to our community."
Helping with collecting items for the backpacks were the eight troops of the Page-Lake Powell Girl Scouts from Big Water to Shonto.
Leader Jackie Clark said Girl Scouts from kindergarten to high school participated.
"One girl in my troop purchased all the same items she got for herself," Clark said. "She knew this is what they would need. They love helping out. They do the bell ringing each year, beach cleanups, trash pickups, just any way we can get together to help out."
Asked why they started the backpack drive, Gamble said she's been where some of these students are now.
"I know the feeling of not having the financial stability," she said. "I've been through it. Because of my job at NGS, now I can provide for my kids, and I'm just thankful in giving back. Just knowing you have made a difference in somebody's life is beautiful."
Gamble and Marquis emphasize they couldn't have done it alone.
"Our employees really care about the community and I'm very thankful for their support," Angie said.
"We would not be able to do the things we do at the holidays or this school supply drive without our NGS employees," Marquis said. "They are the most compassionate and generous people and I am so grateful to them."