Laborers Local 110 hosts tablet drive to help members’ children prepare for virtual learning

Members donate $700 and 450 pounds of food for the Arnold Food Pantry


ALL SMILES: It was all smiles at the Laborers Local 110 drive-thru back-to school event Aug. 8 as members’ children received free tablets this year instead of backpacks to help with virtual learning necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. – Laborers Local 110 photo

Sunset Hills, MO – Each year, Laborers Local 110 hosts a back-to-school event for its members’ children to help ease the financial burden of sending kids back to the classroom.

It’s a fun-filled day at the union hall that includes free backpacks filled with age-appropriate supplies for each student, free haircuts, dental supplies, drawings for gift cards, raffles and crafts for kids.

This year, with restrictions in place in St. Louis County aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 – including social distancing and limits on gatherings to no more than 50 people  – holding the popular event wasn’t a possibility.    

“We had to rethink our strategy,” said Sarah Schwartz, Local 110 office manager and organizer of the event. “Having school-aged children myself, I saw the need for technology far out-weighing the need for pencil and paper.”

GIVING BACK: Members participating in the Laborers Local 110 drive-thru back-to school event donated $700 and 450 pounds of food for the Arnold Food Pantry. To show its appreciation to Local 110 for its continued support over the years, the pantry has placed a Local 110 logo on its van. Standing in front of the logoed van is Local 110 Secretary-Treasurer Steve MacDonald, President Ronny Griffin, retiree and former Business Agent Curt Wheeling and Business Agent Rob Reed. – Laborers Local 110 photo

Schwartz approached the Local 110 Executive Board with the idea of giving away tablet computers instead of backpacks this year and holding a drive-thru event for members to pick them up.

“The board approved the purchase of 350 tablets, and we held the event Aug. 8,” she said. “We really hope that this eased some financial burdens as well as assisting in the virtual learning so many will have to be doing this year.”

In addition to giving away the tablets, Local 110 continued its longstanding tradition of helping neighbors in need by holding a food drive at the event to benefit the Arnold Food Pantry.

Since 2012, Local 110 has donated more than $35,000 and over four tons of canned goods to the non-profit organization, which serves most of northern Jefferson County and all eligible veterans in the county.

“Our membership showed up like they always do with their generosity,” Schwartz said. “We collected $700 and 450 pounds of food for the Arnold Food Pantry during the event.”

Phil Amato, chairman of the food pantry’s board, expressed his gratitude to the Laborers in an email after the event.

“Because of your continued support since 2012, we decided to place the Local 110 emblem/logo on our big van to show our appreciation,” Amato wrote. “The Arnold Food Pantry is proud to be a continued partner with your important union in helping to feed the hungry.

Local 110 Business Agent Rob Reed said the logo looked great and was recognized right away.

“Local 110 plans to match the cash donations that were collected at the event like we have done in the past,” Reed said. “Our membership is always willing to help out with the ‘Cans or Cash’ drives.”

Local 110 started the back-to-school drive 15 years ago in response to the recession. It has continued the event due to the great response from member families.

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