“To me, it’s really fun. I love hanging out with the kids. I’m looking forward to seeing how their summer went, seeing how tall they are now, and just seeing them and seeing how things are going and asking them questions about school: Are they looking forward to the school day? Do they like their schedules?” says volunteer mom Kaziah Anderson. “We also pay attention to their needs – there might be some kids who don’t have the supplies or clothes that they need and we connect with some people at the school to figure out how to support them.”
School kicks off for ninth graders at Madison East on Thursday, Sept. 1, where Anderson and other East mothers, who started Moms On a Mission (MOMs) last year after a series of fights, safety concerns, and behavioral incidents at the school, will once again make their presence felt. On any given lunch hour last year, you would see MOMs outside the school during lunch period handing out snacks and engaging with students.
MOMs are gearing up for a brand-new school year and are looking for continued support from the community as they continue to support the students. Anderson says that the MOMS are still looking for volunteers for the rapidly approaching new school year. “We really want to have a strong presence starting up the school year,” she tells Madison365. “We’ve got a good number of volunteers signed up for Friday … I believe we have five…. So that will be nice. And then quite a few the first week which is really important. I think it’s important for the kids to see that we’re still there for them to keep them safe and that we still care about them and that we’re not going anywhere. So we’re looking forward to it.”
Anderson says that there are now six core MOMS in the group. “Some of them don’t even come to lunch, but do all kinds of work behind the scenes getting things organized. But I’ve got a good group of six that I can count on for one thing or another,” Anderson says. “It would be really nice to have five volunteers every day… to go along with two MOMS every day. That would be perfect.”
Volunteers meet at Milio Sub’s parking lot behind the East High School tennis courts. You can sign up to volunteer during lunchtime at Madison East, by clicking here.
Anderson says that this year, MOMs are making it easier to donate to the cause. “I think right now our goal is to raise enough money for snacks for the whole semester, which we calculated to be about $7,000,” she says. “And so I think we’re at about $5,800 right now which is really great.
“We’re going to be purchasing the snacks ourselves, which will make it so that we have an even assortment rather than having like tons of crackers and no juice, for example,” Anderson says. “We are getting close to our $7,000 goal.”
Besides their daily presence, MOMs are constantly looking for more solutions to keep lunch hours running smooth and students safe. One of those solutions that the MOMS pushed for last year was the staggering of the school’s lunch hour, like many schools — including East — had done in the past, which they saw as a tool to deter violence, prevent more fights and address behavior issues. They were informed that it wasn’t a possibility for the ’22-’23 school year.
“I think the biggest reason I’m hearing now is that [MMSD spokesperson] Tim Lemonds was saying that [having two lunch hours] would be punishing everybody for the few kids who are being disruptive and that changing the lunches for one school, you’d have to change them for all the schools because they all run on the same lunch schedule,” Anderson says.
Nevertheless, Anderson adds that the MOMs are always looking for creative solutions to curb any type of violence at the schools whether it comes from the administration, the students, the staff or the community. “We are all ears,” she says.
With the help of Madison East MOMs, the first day of school on Friday will be an exciting time for all students.
“A big part of the reason why I want to be there, even on the first day for the ninth graders, is because I don’t want the students to come into this feeling scared of what’s going to happen or to fear what high school is going to be like,” Anderson says. “I’m hoping they’ll come in looking forward to high school and knowing that lunchtime is a safe place. You’re not in danger. You’re OK.”