‘Project Headphones’ aims to help buy supplies for Arlington County students

An online fundraiser is working to help provide headphones to Arlington County, Virginia, public school students as another semester of virtual learning gets underway.

Cortney Weber said most parents feel similarly about how the 2019-2020 school year ended.

“I think that for the most part, all parents would agree that the spring was somewhat of a disaster,” she told WTOP.

But Weber, the parent of two children in the Arlington Public School system, said that’s not anyone’s fault: The coronavirus pandemic was a cataclysmic change for everyone, not just schools.

As Weber got her children ready for the new school year, which also features remote learning, she said she found out through local Facebook page Arlington Education Matters that headphones would be the most-needed back-to-school item.

But Weber worried about the families who struggle to put food on the table, even in good times.

The Arlington Public School system, like many school districts throughout the region, has thousands of families that face economic hardship and whose children qualify for free and reduced meals.

Weber thought, “If these families can’t even get food, how are they going to get school supplies for their kids at home?”

That concept helped her craft a new initiative: Project Headphones, a fundraiser to get as many headphones to as many kids as possible.

Weber said she has a friend who gets promotional items for companies, which has proven helpful.

“This is the type of thing that he is able to buy in bulk,” Weber said.

She said the headphones that are being purchased are like what she called the “Madonna mic,” the type of headset with microphone made famous by the pop star.

By Monday afternoon, Weber said she had raised $28,500. Corporate donations of more than $10,000 are included in that figure.

For now, Weber said, the plan is to buy at least 2,600 headphones. But moving forward, the long-term goal is to get as many as 10,000 headphones to the children who need them.

As much as the issues with the last semester frustrated Weber, she sees some positive signs for the coming year.

Her son, a rising seventh-grade student, had a positive experience with a virtual camp during the summer break. As a result, Weber said as everyone’s adapting to distance learning, there has been notable improvement.

“I understand the enormous burden this is going to put on teachers,” Weber said of more distance learning, “but I think it really can be done.”

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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