By Brendan Anderson, AmeriCorps member serving on the Staples, Inc. team with Curley K-8 School

This week, amidst freezing cold and looming grey, I saw enough joy shine in my school to light the coming winter. I saw teenagers smile in unashamed wonder at an old room restored and my teammates clamor like children on their birthdays: "look at all those staplers!" I saw my partner teacher happily unpack a box of new school supplies, and I saw my 3rd-grade students proudly shoulder new bags bearing the City Year logo beside the brand of the company that made hundreds of smiles shine in glistening eyes: Staples, Inc.

For the last week, Staples has overseen renovations to the room in the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain where the City Year team gathers at the start and end of each day, eats lunch, and runs an after school program for middle school students. The unveiling of the new "team space" took place in a small ceremony on Tuesday where school faculty and leaders from City Year graciously thanked representatives from Staples for their generous gifts, which included not only the renovation, but also kits with school supplies for every homeroom teacher and small backpacks for every student. John Burke, Chief Culture Officer of Staples, Inc., attended the event himself and circulated among the students, shaking hands and asking names. While Jenga blocks clattered in the distant background, Burke said it was Staples' mission to help students succeed, but the level of energy in the room was already amazing. "Just keep doing what you're doing," he said to the Curley family, then signaled it was time to cross the hall and see the new space.

The students led the way and so were the first to see the new desks, chairs, SMART board, and freshly painted walls that glowed with inspirational quotations and student artwork. Immediately, the faces of the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders gaped with awed disbelief, suppressed tears visibly gleaming in some eyes. One sixth grade girl, proudly pointing to her pink handprint swimming through a rosy background, declared: "This is now my dream school."

Personally, however, my favorite moment was the next day when the students I serve received their gifts from Staples. All of them smiled happily at the new pencils and notebook, but what excited them most was the red sun and compass logo on the drawstring bags. More than one student, proudly holding the new backpack high, exclaimed: "I'm a City Year too!"

From all of us at the Curley K-8 School, thank you to everyone at Staples who made these joys real. Without your sponsorship, we could not make better happen, let alone use the power of your incredible gifts. Now whenever we enter our brightly shining team space or hand a pencil to a student, we are reminded to go one step further, make more happen, and, looking back at the end of the day, be able to say: "that was easy."

Thank you, Staples, for inspiring us.

View an album of photos from the event here.

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