When Dublin resident Tia Gannon saw how much her children enjoyed their Bailey Elementary School class parties with games and snacks, she began thinking about students at other schools who were not able to have student parties.
Gannon, an events planner before she had children, took action, reaching out to fellow moms on a popular Facebook group page, Dublin Moms in the Know.
Gannon asked the group's members if any were teachers in schools that were battling budget constraints or in neighborhoods where students might be less fortunate. She said she wanted to be a room mom for their class.
"The response was overwhelming," Gannon said.
Gannon started visiting schools in 2016. She held holiday parties at a few schools in the Columbus City Schools.
Dublin Moms in the Know members dropped off craft items and school supplies for her to use for the parties.
Gannon lives in Dublin with her husband, Mark, and their two sons: Max, 12, a sixth-grader at Marburn Academy, 9555 Johnstown Road in New Albany, and Jack, 9, a fourth-grader at St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic School, 7175 Avery Road in Dublin.
By 2017, with the help of her husband, Gannon turned her initiative into a nonprofit organization called School Rocks Party Box.
The move was necessary, she said, to be able to take advantage of grants and financial contributions from area businesses.
Gannon started a private Facebook group, where people could see what her donation needs were and learn where to drop items off.
A couple hundred people joined at first. Now the group has more than 700 members, primarily from Dublin but also from Powell and Hilliard.
Beatty Park Elementary School, 519 Trevitt St. in Columbus, was the first school in which Gannon began volunteering.
In addition to Beatty, she also works with Forest Park Elementary School, 5535 Sandalwood Blvd.; North Linden Elementary School, 1718 E. Cooke Road; and East Linden Elementary School, 2505 Brentnell Blvd., all in the Columbus school district, and St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School, 2940 Parkside Road in Columbus.
To date, School Rocks Party Box has provided 2,500 school-supplies kits to those schools, Gannon said.
She said she also has provided toiletry kits to students, and games and puzzles for indoor recess and holds holiday parties at some of the schools.
At North Linden and Forest Park, Gannon holds quarterly parties to reward students for good behavior related to class participation in PBIS, which stands for positive behavioral interventions and supports. PBIS is a state-mandated program at select Columbus City Schools buildings geared to teaching students respectful behavior.
Jessica Waddell, principal at Beatty Park, said the school's partnership with Gannon began when she held the annual Beatty's Ladies Tea Party. After School Rocks Party Box received nonprofit status, Gannon's support of Beatty Park students and families grew, Waddell said.
In addition to providing event support, Gannon also provides classroom donations, school supplies, coats and more.
"Tia helps Beatty Park meet the academic, social, emotional and enrichment needs of all our students," Waddell said.
"From class parties to quarterly free-book fairs, Tia has grown to be an integral member of our schoolwide team."
Although Gannon has received help from other area parents, fellow elementary school students also have stepped up to show support for students who are less fortunate.
Kelley Layel, a third-grade teacher at Wyandot Elementary School, said her students last year provided winter kits for School Rocks Party Box and collected and sorted hundreds of school supplies.
Gannon's organization helps children by giving them the basic necessities they need to help their school day be better, Layel said.
"When a child feels prepared to learn, they will be so much more successful in the classroom," she said.
For more information about School Rocks Party Box, go to schoolrockspartybox.org or facebook.com/schoolrockspartybox.