Astoria schools will be receiving some greatly appreciated help this year, thanks to Astoria resident Elizabeth T. Martin and Wells Fargo Bank.
Martin, a former schoolteacher of 38 years, has made a donation of $3,000 to the Astoria School District. The gift came just in time to provide library books for sixth-graders, who have been moved to elementary school level this year.
As a result, their solitary stock of books must be split up among three schools.
Astoria Schools Superintendent Mike Sowder was wondering how to divide the books when Martin's donation came along.
"If you have faith, people will step up and provide that," he said.
Martin's donation will buy new books for the sixth-graders. "The most long-lasting effect would be with books," Sowder said.
The donation came about during Wells Fargo's Hawaiian Days Aug. 22. The bank had been collecting school supplies to give to Astoria schools and to help fund that effort, sold hot dogs and took donations.
Martin heard about the event and decided to act.
"I thought, hmm, a hot dog sounds good," she said. Then an idea "popped" into her head - she could do better than a hot dog.
During the event, John Lancing, Astoria Wells Fargo branch manager, received word from his service manager that someone wanted to make a "substantial contribution."
After hearing the amount - $3,000 - Lancing contacted Sowder to arrange for Martin to pay the school district directly.
Sowder said it was "just exhilarating."
"My gosh. Having a donation of this sort is just a tremendous boost for ... school support and it demonstrates that people do care about our school system," he said.
"Well, I love children," Martin explained. "I'm just a person in the community who believes in education."
Martin, a resident of Astoria for 15 years, said the community has been "absolutely fantastic to me."
Wells Fargo collected a box of school supplies and $180 in cash for the school district.
"We're no different from other financial institutions in town in giving back to the community," Lancing said. "Without a firm and educated workforce in this area, jobs will disappear."
Sowder met with Martin, Lancing and Wells Fargo staff to accept the donation. He thanked Martin and Wells Fargo for their efforts.
"We really appreciate Wells Fargo in their reaction to helping the schools out and doing what they can to support the schools in Astoria," Sowder said.