Up­com­ing ven­dors mall to keep spend­ing lo­cal

Samuel Chase El­e­men­tary School to host event

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JClink_En­qGaz

To con­nect fam­i­lies with com­mu­nity ven­dors and part­ners within Prince Ge­orge’s County, the Samuel Chase El­e­men­tary School PTA will host its sixth an­nual Ven­dors Mall Sept. 7 in con­junc­tion with back to school night on the school’s prop­erty in Tem­ple Hills.

“The ven­dor’s mall idea is some­thing that I came up with a few years ago to try and con­nect our par­ents and fam­i­lies with lo­cal ven­dors and com­mu­nity part­ners,” Michelle Robin­son, cor­re­spond­ing sec­re­tary for the school’s PTA, said in a phone in­ter­view Mon­day. “My phi­los­o­phy is kind of like peo­ple spend their money in the area that they live [in]. If I can spend my money with some­one I know who’s in­vested in my school, then all the bet­ter.”

Robin­son said the ven­dors mall is set up in the school’s front hall­way. Cafe­te­ria ta­bles are lined up out­side the main of­fice, where stu­dents and fam­i­lies are greeted by ven­dors as they walk in, she said.

“It’s a first come, first serve sit­u­a­tion so who­ever comes first, they can set up where they like,” said the Tem­ple Hills mother of four. “Our ven­dors mall opens up a lit­tle bit ear­lier be­cause we don’t want to take away from the par­ents get­ting the in­for­ma­tion they need. So we will open our doors at 5:30 [p.m.] and ven­dors can come as early as 4:45 to set up.”

Past ven­dors that have par­tic­i­pated in­clude the Oxon Hill Li­brary, Tem­ple Hills Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, Rita’s of Oxon Hill, Mar­low Heights Movie The­ater, AMF Bowl­ing of Mar­low Heights, the Prince Ge­orge’s County Depart­ment of Parks and Recre­ation’s Xtreme Teens pro­gram, Boy Scouts, Tem­ple Hills Skate Palace and the Ed­u­ca­tional Sys­tems Fed­eral Credit Union, ac­cord­ing to Robin­son.

“We’ve no­ticed that over time, the ven­dors have grown and we’ve kept steady with the ones we’ve had from the be­gin­ning,” Robin­son said. “It seems like it’s been a good sit­u­a­tion.”

Hav­ing served on the school’s PTA since 2010, Robin­son, who refers to her­self as a busi­ness com­mu­nity li­ai­son, said she ini­tially got in­volved be­cause she wanted to help out and make sure her kids had a good ex­pe­ri­ence.

But lit­tle did Robin­son know that ex­pe­ri­ence would turn into a call for ac­tion — a spe­cial call­ing to help other kids whom she loves like her own.

“It’s so funny be­cause now I have two mid­dle school chil­dren who are at Thur­good Mar­shall and they used to al­ways com­plain like, ‘Mommy, why are you al­ways up here?’ But for me, it’s so re­ward­ing,” Robin­son said. “When I walk in the school and the kids are like, ‘Hey, Ms. Michelle!,’ I get very ex­cited about that be­cause I know that I’m mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in at least one kid’s life.

“We have so many kids who are on free and re­duced lunch and they are deal­ing with poverty. We have chil­dren that are home­less, liv­ing with guardians and not with their fam­i­lies — that’s a lot for a kid to have to deal with,” Robin­son con­tin­ued. “So for them to have six to seven hours out of their day where they feel safe and com­fort­able and know that there are peo­ple in­vested in their suc­cess, who re­ally care about them, that means a lot to me.”

Robin­son said back to school night, which will be­gin at 6 p.m., will be an op­por­tu­nity for par­ents to meet and greet teach­ers, in­ter­act with other fam­i­lies, learn about their child’s cur­ricu­lum as well as class­room poli­cies and pro­ce­dures.

“We have a lot of new faces this year as far as staff and par­ents,” Robin­son said. “We’re just very ex­cited to start the year off.”

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