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T-shirt sales help 3,400 in need : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
T-shirt sales help 3,400 in need

Often the reality is something far different than the perception.

In an article published in last week's Ledger-Sentinel, Lyle R. Rolfe reported that there are 2,797 students in the Oswego School District that qualify-due to their family's financial circumstances-for free lunches and another 669 students who qualify for reduced-price meals. Those two groups of students account for approximately 20 percent of the school district's total enrollment of 16,800.

Those numbers surprised us and we believe that most people in our community would have expected those numbers to be far lower. Until now the Oswego School District-like most others in the suburban Chicago area-enjoyed a reputation of financial stability and relative affluence, especially when compared to school districts serving larger urban communities.

But the district's free and reduced lunch numbers tell a different story. We believe they serve as yet another reminder of the financial pressures that local families have been struggling with since the recession hit in 2008 and so many lost their jobs or had their wages frozen or even reduced.

Teachers in local schools have seen first-hand the impact the recession has had on area families. As Rolfe reported, one of those teachers, Brian Allen, an industrial arts instructor at Plank Junior High School, had the inspired idea of printing and selling T-shirts this school year to benefit the families of those more than 3,400 students in need.

The T-shirts, which feature a cartoon logo of school children along with the words "Oswego 308 Cares!" are priced at $10. From each T-shirt sold, $7 goes into a fund to help the district's neediest families and the remaining $3 pays for the T-shirt and the supplies to print them. As of the middle of last month, Allen had sold more than 1,300 T-shirts and raised more than $9,600. The funds are being used to purchase gift cards to area stores that the families can use for the purchase of essential items such as groceries, school supplies and winter coats.

It's important to note the T-shirt program is not limited to the current holiday season. T-shirts will continue to be available for purchase through the end of the current school year when the program's status will be re-evaluated.

Allen and his fellow staff members who have assisted with the program since its inception last summer should be commended for acting to help so many district children and their families.

What we like best about the program is that everyone else in the community can help out by contacting Allen and ordering a T-shirt. Allen can be reached at or by calling him at 630-551-9448. Information on the program can also be found on Facebook at Oswego 308 Cares.

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