Day school in need of donations

Published 12:05 am Saturday, December 8, 2007

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories highlighting non-profit agencies that need help or donations during the holiday season.

NATCHEZ — Since their United Way funding was greatly reduced two years ago the Pleasant Acre Day School is in need of donations now more than ever.

The school’s director Mary Ann Foggo-Eidt said since funding from the United Way has been cut the school has been running on reserve funds, donations and fundraising projects.

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“It won’t take long to eat that up,” she said. “The lights, the gas, all that stuff keeps running even if money is not coming in.”

Eidt said the school runs on a budget of less than $30,000 per year.

Founded in 1959 the Pleasant Acre Day School was built as an alternative to public school for special needs students.

And since it’s construction nearly 50 years ago the school was has depended on charitable donations.

The school was built by volunteers with donated materials on donated land.

While the student body has changed somewhat over the years the mission has not.

Eidt since the school was originally built as an alternative to public schools the student population was young.

However in the late-1960s special needs schools were became eligible for public school and Pleasant Acre went through a transition.

The school began to take older special needs students from the community.

But Eidt said the age of the students is not important.

“They all need love and a safe sheltered environment,” she said.

And that’s exactly what Eidt strives to provide.

“Each day is a little bit different,” she said “But we try to stick to a routine.”

Eidt said while much of the student’s time is spent at the facility they all love the weekly trip to the bowling alley.

“They have a good time, “ she said.

But for Eidt taking the students on trips is more than about bowling and trips to the movies.

“It’s a great way for them to assimilate,” she said.

As Diet’s students assimilate another group is getting some much-needed relief.

Their parents get some free time as well.

Eidt said parents caring for a special needs child are in a lifelong commitment.

“It’s really hard on them,” she said. “When their kids are here the get a much needed respite.”

Parent Linda Barnett agrees.

“The school is priceless,” she said. “And they (students) love it.”

Barnett said she has two children that have attended the school for close to 15 years and knows how important donated funding is for the school.

“It’s critical,” she said. “That’s what keeps them open.”