8/29/13 Area residents pitch in, help round up supplies for local schoolchildren
|What they need to learn|
Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News
Elon University students meet Tuesday in the Moseley Center on Elon’s campus to pack up donated school supplies that will be distributed to local schools. Several different initiatives around Alamance County gather school supplies for students in need.
Area residents pitch in, help round up supplies for local schoolchildren
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 8/29/13
Reprinted with permission.
In the early evening one day this week, Elon University students met at the Student Government Association’s office to sort and pack school supplies for local schools.
At the end, they had about a truckload of pencils, paper, glue sticks and all the other things teachers put on their wish lists every year.
“We’ve been delivering truckloads full for the past two years,” Jana Lynn Patterson, Elon’s associate vice president for student life, said.
Much of that will go to the McKinney-Vento federal program to support the homeless.
Those supplies will be available to 760 homeless ABSS students, said Jan Bowman, who runs the program for ABSS. The need is growing as the number of students registering as homeless rose from 673 last school year.
The Elon supply drive is one of many local efforts to get kids what they need to learn what they need to know.
At BJs in Alamance Crossing on Wednesday, the wholesale shopping club donated $2,000 worth of paper towels, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, dry erase markers and paper to the Classroom Closet and gave another $2,000 in gift cards for later.
The Classroom Closet is a nonprofit store offering school supplies to teachers four times a year with a $25 membership fee. Teachers — public, private or charter — can get up to about $800 worth of supplies a year.
The Classroom Closet has provided about $460,000 worth of school supplies to Alamance County teachers since it opened in 2009, said Terri Stevens, director of the Classroom Closet.
On track to have more than 400 teachers get Classroom Closet memberships, they always need more supplies, Stevens said.
Go to any school and ask about community support and a list will roll out. Grove Park Elementary School Principal Shadonna Gunn talks about the supplies Grove Park Baptist Church gives for students in need.
Teachers at Eastlawn Elementary School talk about the help their school gets from St. Marks Church.
For those who got out of school in the first Bush administration, this is kind of surprising. Children used to go to school with their own supplies and the school provided the rest, or so it seemed.
Now parents come to the first day with tissues for the class and extra notebook paper. Teachers send wish lists home and post them in their classrooms.
Teachers also buy things for classes with their own pay.
Allison Gant, executive director of Alamance Citizens for Education, which operates the Classroom Closet, said she noticed the change when her children started school in the late 1980s.
“That’s definitely a phenomenon that has grown in the past 20 years,” Gant said. “That’s because the supply budgets are limited, and now are even more limited. So teachers have to be creative.”
The Elon drive started with an alumnus, James Black, deployed to Afghanistan.
Black actually wanted to bring school supplies to Afghan children, and in 2011 he asked Elon University to send them, which it did. But, Patterson said, people at the university knew there were also children closer to home needing help.
The first supply drive sent 25 boxes of supplies to Afghanistan and another 14 to the Alamance-Burlington School System, according to the university.
Now the Elon drive keeps all the supplies in Alamance County, since Black’s project, and deployment, ended.
The Elon drive now benefits not only the McKinney-Vento program, but also Elon’s own Village Project.
The Village Project puts prekindergarten through eighth-grade students at risk of falling behind academically with Elon education students for tutoring, said Jean Rattigan-Rohr, the Elon faculty member who runs the program.
The supplies come mostly from big donation boxes spread around campus, Patterson said. She also reaches out to staff, faculty and alumni through email in the late summer as the university gets ready for the new semester. She says people seem to know about it already.
“But with faculty and staff it’s become a tradition,” Patterson said.