Local fund for English language learners gains global support

Local News

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — What started as helping one State College family in need has grown to help a total of 20 with donations coming in from around the globe.

The English Language Learner Fund was started by Linda Barton, a former ESL teacher in State College, who says this fund not only provides emergency aid to families in need, but also encourages responsibility and hard work.

When Barton heard a State College student was in desperate need of food, she jumped to help. After that delivery during the last week of March, Barton says she knew this could grow into something bigger.

“This isn’t going to end this week, we need to do something more,” says Barton.

She made a post on Facebook to raise money and State College Area teachers began compiling a list of families in need from their classrooms.

“And then we thought, you know, we want to encourage responsibility on their part, we would give them an allotment and they could buy the groceries that they wanted,” says Barton.

Barton says they started with 20 families, about 85 people. They currently aid about 15 families.

They’ve spent about $40,000 toward rent, groceries, air conditioners in the summer, and school supplies in the fall. And they’ve received donations from about 400 people.

Many of these families have lost their income due to the pandemic.

“I’m going to say 90 percent of them work in restaurants,” says Barton.

Barton says she actively looks for jobs for the family members, from gardening, construction, Uber driving, and food delivery.

“We’re trying to always look for things because they’re great workers, they’re super hard workers, and they don’t want to be sitting at home waiting for work,” says Barton.

If you’d like to contribute to the fund, you can give through Venmo (@Linda-Barton) or PayPal (eslinda54@gmail.com). Cash, check, or physical items are also accepted in-person or through mail to 182 Legion Lane, State College, PA 16801.

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