Art Exhibition Raises Funds for Local Students


(Thursday, May 31, 2007 6:33 AM EDT)

Feeling accepted in middle school is hard enough. But what about the students who can't afford the basics?

The Kids Fitting In Fund at Swanson Middle School tries to address this issue.

Founder Sandi Parker, a long-time Arlingtonian and mother of a Swanson student, started the fund this past fall with the hope of providing lower-income students with items important to middle schoolers, and helping them feel more a part of their peer groups.

“I was thinking about my daughter, and how lucky she is,” Parker said. “This is a pretty well-to-do area, but there are still low-income kids and I wanted to know, what do they do?”

Money for the fund is generated from sales of Parker's artwork. She donates half the money she makes on each painting she sells.

With the help of Swanson's principal and counselors, she has contributed about $800 to the fund and aided between 10 and 15 students so far.

“Middle school can be a tough and real challenging time in your life,” said Swanson counselor Jessie Napolitano. The fund “was a great idea that Sandi came up with. You should see the girls and boys beaming when they get something new.”

Parker's goal for the end of the school year is to purchase yearbooks and graduation clothing for eight graders in need.

To help reach this goal, Parker and fellow artist Deborah Taylor hope to sell about 40 paintings at their “Landscapes and Little League” exhibition at the Century 21 Redwood Realty office during the month of June.

“It's up in the air how many yearbooks and graduation dresses we'll need to buy,” Parker said. “But I'm hoping for as much as we possibly can make.”

Parker said she hopes that the Kids Fitting In Fund can serve as a model for other schools because “there's a need all over.”

She said that she is determined to keep the fund going even when her children are not students at Swanson anymore.

“Swanson is a great school,” Parker said. “I don't care if my kids are off and married and not in school anymore. There will always be a need, and this is a perfect way for me to channel my funds.”

The opening reception for the “Landscapes and Little League” exhibition is on Friday, June 1 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Century 21 Redwood Realty, 1711 Wilson Blvd. For more information, e-mail Sandi Parker at

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