Jul 31, 2023

Nonprofits pack bags with school supplies for students in need

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — School is just weeks away from starting in the Carolinas, and that means the rush is on for teachers to get their classrooms ready. But for many teachers, the cost of classroom supplies can be a major burden.

In North Carolina, the average teacher's salary is just over $55,000. In South Carolina, it's just over $54,000. That means that many teachers are spending a significant portion of their own salaries on classroom supplies.

"Teachers are probably some of the most underpaid professions in the entire workforce," Vanecia "V" Carr, Classroom Central board of directors vice chair, said. "Yet they spend at least $1000 to $1500, and some even upwards of $2,000 of their own money every single year to outfit their classes to put school supplies in front of students who don't have them,"

To help alleviate this burden, a local nonprofit called Classroom Central with around 700 volunteers is packing backpacks with school supplies for students in need.

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“So many kids are able to go out and to do back-to-school shopping and get everything that they need," Karen Calder, Classroom Central executive director, said. "But there are so many kids in this community that just do not have that opportunity."

This year, they're packing backpacks for over 35,000 students in Mecklenburg, Gaston, and Iredell counties.

This was all made possible by Classroom Central through community partners like the David and Nicole Tepper Foundation, John M. Belk Endowment, and dozens of other Charlotte-area companies and nonprofits.

"I don't love just to give a monetary gift. This is my favorite thing," Nicole Tepper of The David and Nicole Tepper Foundation said pointing to volunteers packing bags. "So to be a part of it, and also give back in that way is equally as important. So it's a message to the community, a thank you message, and then also come out and volunteer."

The Equitable Foundation was one of the multiple volunteer tables packing thousands of bags.

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"We love being a force for good," Jarian Kerekes, the president of social impact at Equitable Foundation, said. "So to be part of this Backpacks and Basics program with Classroom Central means a lot. We love supporting the local community and it's nice to be here amongst so many great companies."

The backpacks are filled with essential school supplies, such as pencils, paper, notebooks, and folders. The backpacks will be distributed to students at back-to-school orientations and open houses.

This will help ensure that all students have the supplies they need to succeed in school.

"Classroom Central really helps bridge the gap between the children who are more fortunate and the children who are not, and it allows for those children to walk into school with the same level of confidence with the same amount of backpacks with the same amount of school supplies," Carr said.

Classroom Central is a great example of how community partners can help to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed. By providing backpacks with school supplies, they're helping to level the playing field and give all students a fair chance.

Contact Shamarria Morrison at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.