08/09/09 — School supply drives crucial

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School supply drives crucial

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 9, 2009 2:00 AM

Parents struggling to stretch a dollar can be even more stressed when it comes time to pick up back to school supplies.

Sometimes being able to afford pencils and paper is a hardship, says Sudie Davis, executive director of Communities in Schools.

"We know that 60 percent of or kids in our school system qualify for free and reduced lunch," she said. "We have a lot of kids that have been identified as needing assistance."

The recent economy, and a climbing unemployment rate, have increased the challenge, she said.

Each year, Communities in Schools holds collection drives to provide school supplies for needy students around the county.

Mrs. Davis estimates the need will be even higher this year.

"Last year we received over $3,000 worth of school supplies and it wasn't enough," she said.

Her dream would be to have so many donations that a supply closet could be set up and drawn upon all through the year.

For now, she'll settle for raising awareness and encouraging those who can to contribute.

"Look at the sale flyers," she suggested, motioning around a conference room in her office where she has already begun stocking up on glue sticks and composition books. Whenever she sees a good bargain, she takes advantage, sometimes out of her own pocket.

But that's no different than what is already going on in many area classrooms, she says.

"I don't think people realize just how much teachers and school staff do out of their own pocket," she said. "I commend them for what they do but I also know what the community does would truly be appreciated."

A variety of school supplies drives have been going on for several years, she said, starting in 2000 when WRAL-TV partnered with Communities in Schools in North Carolina.

"We were part of that campaign, but later it stopped," she said. "We still felt there was a need, so we continued on our own."

The effort has been successful, but it's still hard to keep pace with the growing needs, she said.

"Our big year was when a local business brought us over 6,000 pairs of scissors," she recalled. "We collected about $16,000 worth of school supplies that year."

Mrs. Davis works closely with the school system, sending out an order form each year. Social workers and counselors identify students and a list of supplies.

"We probably just touch the tip of the iceberg with what we collect annually," she admits. "We always wish we could have more because we have unfulfilled orders we have received."

This year's campaign -- School Supplies Equal School Success -- drew the attention of Goldsboro Rotary Club, which chose to make it the focus of the Days of Caring campaign, Aug. 12-19.

"We have participated in the Days of Caring for several years and wanted to do something again this year," said Julie Daniels, past president of the club. "Jane Rustin (librarian at Wayne County Public Library) and Sudie got together and we decided that this was a project we wanted to help with.

"That's part of the mission of the Rotary -- service above self. This is just one of the many things that we want to do."

Eleven club members have offered to put collection boxes in their offices for the drive. Other members will also participate with sorting and delivering.

Goldsboro Kiwanis has also made a donation and Strickland Insurance is collecting supplies, Mrs. Davis added.

In addition to the typical fare of pens and pencils, erasers and notebooks, items needed include tissues, composition books, filler paper, one-inch binders, three-hole pocket folders, scissors and glue sticks.

During business hours between Aug. 12 and 19, items may be dropped off at any of the following locations: N.C. Community Federal Credit Union on Ash Street; First Citizens Bank on Wayne Memorial Drive; Wayne County Public Library; Goldsboro City Hall; Weil Enterprises on Walnut Street; Academics Plus on Berkeley Blvd.; The McMillen Real Estate Group on Berkeley Blvd.; Partnership for Children on William Street; Sam's Club; Wayne County Public Schools administrative offices on Royall Avenue; Piedmont Natural Gas on U.S. 117; and the Communities in Schools office on William Street.

CIS is also bringing back the "Stuff the Bus" campaign on Aug. 21 at Wal-Mart from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Mrs. Davis said, with the idea being to fill the bus with school supplies.

For more information on the projects, call Mrs. Davis at 735-1432.