|Whitney Elementary School near Boulder Highway and East Tropicana Avenue recently received big donations including cash and books. From left, Whitney President Sherrie Gahn, Henderson businessman Bobby Ellis, who along with his wife, Sandy, donated $50,000 to the school; Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who spearheaded the donation of 500 books to the school; and Louise Helton, state director in Communities in Schools of Nevada.
Whitney Elementary, an at-risk school situated near East Tropicana Boulevard and Boulder Highway, continued to receive major attention recently with the donations of cash and books donated by a noted U.S. Congresswoman and a Henderson businessman.
The school with 85 percent of its students from homes with low or no income, was the recipient of a $50,000 check from Bobby and Sandy Ellis of SNAP Tow along with 500 books donated by U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley.
“We are so excited about the books,” said Whitney Principal Sherrie Gahn. “Many of our students have no books at home so this gives them the chance to create their own little library at home."
“Children need books to call their own and having them available at home helps young boys and girls develop vital reading skills and their imaginations," Congresswoman Berkley said. "I still remember favorite stories read to me as a child, and as a mom, I saw first hand the benefits of reading with my own two sons.”
There were four different types of books donated. In all, Congresswoman Berkley spearheaded the donation of 10,000 books working with K.I.D.S, Inc. She was encouraged to visit the school by Ellis who has adopted Whitney and proven an invaluable help for the school.
“I thank K.I.D.S. Inc and Communities in Schools for arranging this generous donation of new reading materials that will help benefit our Southern Nevada schools at a time when budgets are tight," Congresswoman Berkley added. “All my life I have enjoyed the world of reading. It is important to enjoy what you read.”
Together with the donation from the Ellis Family, the donations came at an ideal time for a program that has touched the hearts of people all over the world.
The money donated by the Ellis family will be used to feed the children over the summer with weekend food bags. In addition, another portion will be used to make certain that every student at Whitney receives a Christmas present during the schools Christmas party scheduled for Dec. 15.
Berkley was very touched by what she found at Whitney.
“It was heartwarming, touching and sobering,” Congresswoman Berkley said of her visit to Whitney, which has attracted world-wide attention thanks to three stories which have been aired by CNN.
“I think it was real honor to have Shelley come and see what we do,” said Gahn. “It was wonderful for her to meet with our kids and for them to see that she cares.
"Further example of Congresswoman’s generosity is the fact that she helped donate funds toward the purchase of our van.
“Bobby has helped put a face on a problem that was rarely addressed before. This is a side of children that people are not aware of. By offering a lending hand, he has brought attention to the problem.”
Ellis has played a major role helping Whitney in various ways ranging from cash donations to helping purchasing a Dodge van in conjunction with Findlay Acura for use taking students to doctor’s appointments along with picking up donations. In all, the Ellis family has given about $300,000 to the school.
“Bobby actually has single-handidly fed hundreds of our kids for the past four years,” Gahn said. “Whenever we have run out funds and don’t know where we’re going to get our food, he comes out of nowhere to help us without being asked ever. He is truly our angel at Whitney Elementary.”
Ellis’s commitment to the school has become known throughout the state.
“I will always be there for Whitney,” he said. “The students deserve the help and we are so happy to assist them.”