Yes, back-to-school season is upon us.
In stores everywhere one can expect to find parents and children perusing aisles and fancy displays bulging with the latest back-to-school essentials as the first day of school quickly approaches.
But with closer examination, one will also find members of the community who are purchasing supplies to ensure that all Moore County students have the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.
Communities in Schools (CIS), a local organization that empowers students to stay in school through community involvement, has been collecting school supplies for families who canb t afford to purchase them.
During the tax-free holiday Aug. 6 through 8, volunteers filled school buses parked outside of Walmart and Staples with pencils, erasers, scissors, crayons, notebook paper, backpacks, folders, spiral notebooks, bottles of glue and various other supplies found on most classroom supply lists.
The effort was part of the organizationb s annual Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive.
As supplies come in, volunteers will distribute them to all schools in the Moore County school system.
Students who need supplies can ask their school counselors for them.
The program allows students to receive aid without being singled out by their peers or teachers.
Alicia Gatling, a CIS volunteer and psychological coordinator at Aberdeen Elementary School, helps distribute supplies to students throughout the year.
Gatling says that the need for supplies is always prevalent, and all donations are appreciated.
b Whatb s great is all grades can use these supplies,b Gatling says. b Itb s good because people know that their children will benefit.b
Students will be back in school by Aug. 25, but the need for school supplies continues long after the opening bell on the first day of class.
b Kids will be kids,b Gatling says. b They lose things. Parents arenb t always willing to buy more supplies. Itb s good for us to be able to back them up.b
Gatling adds that communal classroom supplies such as tissues and disinfecting wipes are also in high demand throughout the year, especially during cold and flu season.
b That really helps teachers because budgets are really tight right now,b she says.
These days, budgets are tighter everywhere b for parents and the greater community b but Gatling has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of generosity she has seen while collecting supplies.
b You would think itb d be harder with the state of the economy, but thatb s what makes people really want to give more,b she says.
Dorothy McDonald was one of the Walmart shoppers who dropped by to hand off a few bags of school supplies during the collection drive.
Though her granddaughter lives in California, McDonald figured she could still go back-to-school shopping and potentially help children receive the supplies they need for the year ahead.
b I enjoyed doing it, even though there was such a crowd in there!b she says. b Ib m sure theyb ll be going to a good purpose.b
CIS also runs after-school programs, tutoring and mentor programs for students, as well as FirstSchool gardens, in which students grow seasonal vegetables and learn about healthy eating habits.
The organization brings volunteers into schools and helps address the unmet needs of children by providing a link between educators and the community.
For more information about donating to Communities in Schools, or becoming a volunteer, call (910) 295-1072, or visit www.moorebuddiesmentoring.com.
Contact Hannah Sharpe by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.