Employees at SDN Communications have a special relationship with several hundred elementary school students and their teachers.
The students attend Garfield Elementary School, a public school near SDN’s headquarters in west-central Sioux Falls. The school at 725 S. Roberts Dr. lacks a parental organization to help faculty plan and lead special events and support the students in other ways.
The relationship formed in early 2018 when SDN stepped in to provide prizes for a bingo event that the school hosted for students and parents.
The company and its 137 employees have helped provide meals for teachers during parent-teacher conferences, led a clothing drive to benefit students who needed winter clothing, and donated cash to help buy other needed items.
Employees also volunteer their time to read books to classes and assist with outings.
The relationship has continued into a third school year. SDN recently donated $500 to Garfield – the same amount the company contributed last year - to help the school meet student needs that often go beyond the norm.
In the past, the money from SDN has been used for everything from buying classroom materials to paying student admission on field trips. In some cases, gym shoes have been provided to students struggling with worn-out or wrong-sized footwear.
Some of the money from this year’s donation might be used for supplies to operate a washer and dryer that was gifted to the school by another business.
A lot of SDN’s donation comes from a special, employee-controlled charity fund. Employees may buy Jeans Stickers for $5 per day to wear jeans at work Monday through Thursday. (Business casual is the usual style. But everyone can wear jeans on Fridays.)
Garfield serves nearly 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, plus about 70 more in early childhood preschool. A high percentage of Garfield students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
SDN has really stepped up and filled a gap that is taken care at some schools by active parental organizations, said Kristin Skogstad, who is in her fourth year as Garfield’s principal. She says students and staff feel the love and support the company provides.
“We just really appreciate what SDN has done for our students and staff. I don’t know sometimes what we’d do without them,” Skogstad said. “Just knowing some people in our community care means so much to us. Hopefully, they know that.”
The people at SDN do know. Helping the school in small ways makes SDN and its employees feel good, too.
Susan Anacker, a commercial service delivery coordinator at SDN, serves on an employee committee and is the company’s liaison with Garfield. The faculty and students are extremely grateful for what the company does for the school, she said.
Skogstad has asked what the school can do for SDN, Anacker said.
“Honestly, we just want them to keep paying it forward. Do good in the community. Help by being positive role models and have a positive influence,” Anacker said.
The company does have a nice, visual reminder of its relationship Garfield, too. An art class created an abstract painting to help say thanks to the company. The painting hangs in a break room at SDN.
In the past, businesses such as Tomacelli’s Pizza & Pasta have teamed up with SDN to provide meals for special events at Garfield. Employee leaders at SDN would like to see more get involved with their neighborhood school.
Skogstad, for example, would like to line up more businesses that would be willing to host small groups of students. The experience of touring a business or going on special leadership lunch as a reward can have a powerfully beneficial, long-term impact on students, Skogstad said.
Businesses that would like to get involved and help students may call the school at (605) 367-6180.
SDN Communications is a regional leader in providing broadband connectivity and cybersecurity services to businesses in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington and the surrounding areas.