“Our goal is just to do as much as we can and help improve as many lives as possible.” – Kirsten Queoff, Verona Area High School Senior and Verona Aid member

There’s a movement growing in Verona and a group of teenagers is doing everything possible to create positive change in their own community. Verona Aid is a student-led organization with a clear mission: End poverty in Dane County.

The students were inspired by one of their teachers, Mr. Knoll, who was moved to take action after seeing the images emerging from the Syrian refugee crisis.

“He’s trying to be the change he wants to see in the world,” said senior Leah Hollar. Mr. Knoll and his students began researching ways to help the refugees across the world, but the teens also discovered how much need was here at home. The group zeroed in on young children in Dane County, formed a plan to make sure young minds were prepared for school and turned to United Way.

Poverty puts a toll on children’s mental and physical health, educational achievement and ultimate earnings as an adult. The opportunity for children to realize their full potential is affected by the economic stability of their families. The ability to provide decent housing in safe neighborhoods with access to good schools, health care and healthy meals has a direct bearing on a child’s well being.

United Way of Dane County convened a group of community leaders to research and determine local strategies aimed to decrease the number of young families with children who are living in poverty in Dane County and specifically address barriers for children and families of color in our community.
This group will unveil these strategies February 25 at the Strong Roots: Building Economically Stable Families launch. Everyone is invited to be a part of this conversation with community and civic leaders.

In Verona, Verona Aid members are gaining a deeper understanding of these issues. Between March and May, the group is collecting school supplies and backpacks for 250 local children. Verona Aid is donating everything they collect to United Way of Dane County, which will ensure the backpacks are delivered to students in need. Thank you, Verona Aid! Watch the video to meet this incredible group and if you would like to help, like what items to donate, find more information here.