Local charity projects benefit students

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Retired St. John the Baptist Parish educator Betty Coleman Clement has announced the creation of a new Christmas Memorial project, as well as the continuation of a learning initiative she started in 1996.

 Clement announced she has created the Warren and Leona S. Coleman Christmas Memorial fund, which is named in honor of her parents, to benefit the families of military personnel as well as children who are in need of assistance with school supplies in the second school semester, which begun in January. The fund honors those military personnel who reside in St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes by providing school supplies and other gifts to their children and siblings. The fund is also committed to helping those families not necessarily related to military personnel who are in desperate need of supplies for the second-half of the school year.

At the same time, Clement recently delivered more than 1,000 dictionaries, notebooks and pencils to third- and fourth-grade students in the River Parishes area as part of the Dictionary Project, which she began in the region five years ago. The project is funded through Clement’s Tools for School Campaign and the Shell Oil Company. Each dictionary is personalized with a name plate that includes the child’s name, school, teacher and sponsor. 

Through Clement’s efforts, she encourages students to make frequent use of their dictionaries and to record each new word learned in the notebook that she provides.

“Ensuring that our children get a quality education is the responsibility of each and every one of us. I am privileged to be able to play this small role in helping these students work toward achieving their goal of obtaining an education that will adequately prepare them for their roles as leaders of their community, their state and their country,” Clement said.

 She noted that she created the Coleman Christmas Memorial Fund as a means of honoring her parents’ “spirit of giving.”

 “Although we came from humble beginnings, my parents always stood ready to help a neighbor who had less – an adult who needed the ingredients for a meal, someone who needed a garment made or a child who needed assistance with her homework because her parents were unable to read or write,” she said. “In the spirit of Christmas, I honor them by doing what they taught me be example. It gives me a sense of pride in remembering their work, and it brings me some measure of comfort as well.”