Back-to-school sales have been a big part of Charlotte’s culture for 25 years WFAE 90.7

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Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Bank of America Stadium on Tuesday to pack backpacks for school. It’s part of Charlotte’s 25-year tradition of collecting items for students in need.

The stadium scene was crowded, noisy and sweaty, with 50 mini-assembly lines set up for volunteers to stuff pencils, erasers and markers into colorful book bags.

Nearly 600 volunteers braved the summer heat to stuff sacks of books at Bank of America Stadium on Tuesday.

“So today we have almost 600 volunteers putting together 20,000 backpacks,” said Karen Calder, Executive Director Class Central. Her group works with the David and Nicole Tepper Foundation and several corporate sponsors to provide for students in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.

They expect to deliver bags of supplies to 35,000 students in 38 schools.

This year, the mass gathering to put the donated items into the bags is a novelty. But it brings back fond memories of Cynthia Marshall, the retired president Communities in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

In the mid-1990s, supply collections tended to be small. Marshall’s group has been collecting toothpaste and toothbrushes for students and decided to add some school supplies to their wish list.

Cynthia Marshall.jpeg

Courtesy of Cynthia Marshall

Cynthia Marshall

“And that included alarm clocks, soap, shampoo and deodorant. Because we learned that students certainly weren’t coming to school on time because they didn’t have a chance to get a reminder or wake up,” Marshall recalls. .

In 1996, Communities In Schools and Hands On Charlotte launched the school tools campaign. But it didn’t really take off until 1997, when WSOC-TV signed on.

“They kind of branded it and promoted it widely,” Marshall said. “And then (collectible) kegs started popping up in different places, thanks to that publicity.”

The school tool drive was a 22-county effort that ended up collecting tons of supplies and required a huge amount of volunteers to sort, load and deliver them. The communities in the schools called in the National Guard for help.

School Tools 2007_Barrel Prep with National Guard NC-1.jpeg

Provided by Communities in Schools

National Guardsmen pose with School Tools organizers in 2007.

“It takes an army, not just a village,” Marshall said, laughing.

Many other groups have also started big deliveries, stuffing backpacks with everything a child will need to start the school year.

The rise of social media campaigns, online stores, and donation apps have created many other ways to support students and faculty from the comfort of their homes. But the people who came to fill the bags at the stadium said there was something special about the personal collection.

Valerie Robles and Nassif Majid worked at AvidXchange a table

“I think it’s a little bit more special when you’re around a whole group of people because the energy is really important, or it’s really important to me,” Robles said.

“You know, being able to give money with my physical strength at a young age means more than just online or something like that,” Majeed, 29, said.

Kimberly Kicklighter.jpeg
Kimberly Kicklighter sponsored a collection table and invited friends to join her in celebrating her birthday by loading bags for children in need.

Most of the assembly tables were sponsored by corporations, but Kimberly Kicklighter paid for her share of supplies and invited friends to help her celebrate her 48th birthday.

“You know, I remember how important it was to me to have good school supplies and how I loved putting together a book bag before school started,” she said.

Marshall, who retired from school communities in 2006, has her own theory about why back-to-school sales are so popular.

“It really gives us an opportunity to say, ‘I see you.’ I see you as an important part of our community. I see that you are the future, and I want to give you the tools to help you get there,” she said.

“For me, that’s one of the most important parts of this is to remember that children often feel invisible,” she added. “And it’s a way of saying, ‘You matter.’ “



Back-to-school sales have been a big part of Charlotte’s culture for 25 years WFAE 90.7

Source link Back-to-school sales have been a big part of Charlotte’s culture for 25 years WFAE 90.7