Williamstown resident Rileigh Leighton’s nonprofit is again partnering with retailer Staples to provide much-needed school supplies to students across the Monroe school district.
At 9 years old, Leighton had big dreams to build a homeless shelter in her backyard. In 2014, she realized her goal of helping others with an organization called Rileigh’s Rainbow.
Layton started by using her Christmas money to provide school supplies to three students at Oak Knoll Elementary.
For the last three years, Leighton has partnered with Staples, which provides supplies to all six schools in the Monroe district. The donations have been jam packed with supplies students might need, including highlighters, pencils and Expo markers.
“They (Staples) have been a big help to us actually, because throughout the pandemic, we couldn’t host any fundraisers,” said Leighton. “But what they have been doing the past three years is giving us actual supplies and it has been really convenient.”
Rileigh’s Rainbow hosted fundraisers in previous years to pay for the school supplies, but the pandemic put a stop to that. Nonetheless, the nonprofit has provided supplies through the generosity of Staples and other local businesses. Leighton believes that more than 1,500 students have benefitted this year.
One thing that has not changed in the eight years since Rileigh’s Rainbow began is that Leighton hand delivers the supplies to students.
“We always hand deliver the products every single year,” she noted. “The school is always super appreciative, especially Oak Knoll, because that’s where we started. Every year, we have continuous support from all of the schools.”
Although it has been years since Leighton attended Oak Knoll – she now attends Wagner College in New York – she has made it her mission to continue collecting and donating supplies to the community where she was raised
“For me, it is about coming back home and doing something I have always done,” Leighton noted. “This makes me feel like I am still part of the community, even if I no longer live there.”
Leighton wants her success with Rileigh’s Rainbow to inspire kids in reaching their goals and helping others, as her grandmother taught her many years ago.
“We have always been a giving family,” Leighton reflected. “I feel like I am carrying on my grandmother’s legacy. She would give anyone money on the street.”
For more information about Rileigh’s Rainbow, visit rileighsrainbow14.com.