Supplies in demand: Charities get kids ready for school

Supplies in demand: Charities get kids ready for school

July 29th, 2012 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

Candace Davis, right, accepts a donated backpack at United Way of Greater Chattanooga's 2011 Stuff the Bus school supply drive.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

WHAT'S NEEDED

• No. 2 pencils

• Black or blue ink pens

• 24-count Crayola crayons

• Colored pencils

• Kleenex

• Pencil boxes

• Wide-rule notebook paper

• Dry-erase markers

• Scissors

• Rulers

• Erasers

• Pocket folders

• Clorox table wipes

• Paper towels

• Hand sanitizer

DRIVES AND DISTRIBUTIONS

Where to drop off supplies:

• Through Wednesday: Bethlehem Center, 200 W. 38th St., for Westside Missionary Baptist Church school supply drive.

• Aug. 4: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, 4131Ringgold Road; Tom's Carpet, 3029 Ringgold Road; or Phantom Fireworks, 6515 Ringgold Road; Fill Up A Truck School Supply Drive sponsored by East Ridge Education Committee.

• Through Aug. 4: All Chick-fil-A restaurants in the greater Chattanooga and Cleveland area; benefits Nehemiah Project.

• Through Aug. 15: Samaritan Center, 9231 Lee Highway, Ooltewah.

• Through Aug. 17: All Publix grocery stores or Walgreens drugstores; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 400 E. 11th St.; look for United Way Stuff the Bus collection boxes.

• Aug. 19: Chattanooga Market, First Tennessee Pavilion; United Way's Stuff the Bus drive.

Where to receive supplies

• Aug. 4: Bethlehem Center, 200 W. 38th St., 11 a.m. until supplies run out, sponsored by Westside Missionary Baptist Church.

• Aug. 16: Nehemiah Project delivers backpacks to every student in grades K-5 at Bess T. Shepherd, Calvin Donaldson, Clifton Hills, East Lake, Eastside, Orchard Knob, Woodmore and Hillcrest elementary schools.

• East Ridge Education Committee: Supplies will be delivered to East Ridge Elementary School, Spring Creek Elementary School, East Ridge Middle and High schools.

• United Way's Live United: Collected supplies will be delivered to the Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot.

• Hamilton County Baptist Association's HaCoBaCare: Assistance available now for clients referred through United Way 211.

• Samaritan Center: Assistance available through Aug. 15 by calling 238-7777 for an appointment.

Kelley Andrews has an ambitious goal and a looming deadline. She could use your help.

On Aug. 16, Andrews and partners of the Nehemiah Project plan to deliver more than 3,000 backpacks to the eight Title 1 schools in the Hamilton County public school system.

Every child in grades K-5 at Bess T. Shepherd, Calvin Donaldson, Clifton Hills, East Lake, Eastside, Orchard Knob, Woodmore and Hillcrest elementary schools will receive a backpack stuffed with the supplies they need to get their school year off to a great start.

"This is our 12th year doing this project," Andrews said of the Nehemiah Project's partnership among churches, businesses and volunteers.

"We were seeing a lot of moms who weren't able to provide their kids with school supplies -- kids coming in with no paper, no pencils, no crayons. There was a real need for us to do something for these children."

Stuff the Bus, Stock the Locker and Fill Up a Truck are some of nine school supply drives big and small currently under way to see that no child arrives for the first day of classes Aug. 13 lacking the basic tools for learning.

Without this assistance, the burden often falls to teachers to see that their students are equipped to learn.

Susan Rogers, who has been a teacher at Ooltewah Elementary School for 11 years, said she usually spends from $1,000 to $2,000 of her own money annually on supplies and other classroom needs.

"Parents in my school try to send what they can, but we have some students whose families just can't afford school supplies, so we make everything community supplies. For example, all pencils go into a container in the middle of the table so everyone has access to one, and I supplement them as needed," said Rogers.

According to the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, about 25 percent of Hamilton County public school students live at or below the poverty level. A report by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth found that 44.4 percent of Hamilton County schoolchildren were on free or reduced lunch programs in 2010.

Teachers say when a family is struggling to provide necessities, school supplies are luxuries few can afford.

"I think if children don't have what they need to start school, we lose a lot of them," said Andrews. "I truly believe if children don't have a backpack, the right supplies, when they are 5 and starting school, they won't trade their backpacks for briefcases later in the work force."

LOCAL SUPPLY DRIVES

Nehemiah Project: The Salvation Army has teamed with the Nehemiah Project to see that 3,000 backpacks are ready for delivery the first week of school. Chick-fil-A restaurants are collection sites for school supply donations from the public.

Kelley Andrews said the majority of their funding comes from businessman David Parker, supported by donations from churches and individuals. Office Depot assists the effort by purchasing particularly needed supplies at discount prices.

Volunteers from Abba's House, City Church, Mount Canaan Baptist, The River Church, New Monumental Baptist, Dynamic Church and The Salvation Army have agreed to help stuff the packs.

Andrews said more volunteers are needed. Anyone wishing to help stuff backpacks should call Kimberly George at The Salvation Army, 756-1023, or Andrews, 316-3744.

Stuff the Bus: United Way of Greater Chattanooga began this supply drive in 2010, collecting $10,000 in supplies, according to spokeswoman Kelley Nave. Last year, that total increased to $15,000.

With the addition of 11 partners on board this year, the goal is a lofty $40,000 in donated supplies.

Donations may be dropped off at any Publix or Walgreens. The drive's highlight is Aug. 19 at Chattanooga Market when Stuff the Bus is featured.

Nave said all donations will be delivered to the Hamilton County PTA Teacher Supply Depot. Any Hamilton County schoolteacher who is a PTA member can "shop" in the depot at no charge when it opens for Teacher Days.

"We chose the Teacher Supply Depot because we wanted something that all teachers had access to equally. We also think teachers are the best distribution means because they know which students in their classes are in need. The Supply Depot is a great way to get supplies to who needs them when they need it," said Nave.

East Ridge Education Committee: This group of East Ridge parents, teachers and residents advocate for schools within its community. Its drive, Fill Up a Truck, is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at three East Ridge locations. All donated supplies will be delivered to East Ridge schools for distribution to students in need. (See accompanying box.)

Hamilton County Baptist Association: Throughout the summer, school supply drives have been under way at member Baptist churches. The donations are delivered to the denomination's outreach ministry, HaCoBa Care, for disbursement.

Gerald Lawson, HaCoBa director, said the nonprofit assists clients referred by United Way 211.

Samaritan Center: Since July 17, the social-services center in Ooltewah has helped more than 50 children get ready to go back to school, said Cheryl Torres, Samaritan Center marketing director. The center will continue filling school supply requests through Aug. 15.

"Last year we helped 233 children, which was a little higher than usual because of families who had lost everything in the April tornados. We usually serve 180 to 200 each year," she said. Torres said the center averages $130 per child on supplies.

Anyone needing assistance should call the center at 238-7777 and make an appointment with the receptionist for an evaluation. The receptionist will tell the parent what paperwork is needed.

"We may be able to help with other needs as well, such as clothing to meet school dress codes," Torres said. "We set up an appointment for parents to come with their children to the Stock Their Lockers room. They bring their school supply lists, and we choose their needs from that list."

Supplies are provided through donations from community businesses, individuals and churches who support the center.

Westside Missionary Baptist Church: Westside Church and Bethlehem Center have partnered with a goal of filling 150 backpacks for distribution on Aug. 4 at the Bethlehem Center.

"We will start at 11 a.m. Saturday and go until supplies run out," said Raquetta Dotley, youth minister at the church.

"Our mission target is Southside residents, but we will assist anyone who comes in and needs help."

Dotley said the 250-member Westside congregation has been collecting supplies since May. The congregation of Calvary Chapel is donating backpacks. Donations will be accepted from the public until Wednesday at Bethlehem Center.

Doing the Most Good: Target stores and Salvation Army chapters partnered nationwide this year for Doing the Most Good. Children of Salvation Army clients were given $80 gift cards by Target stores to shop for school supplies and apparel.

"Target is donating $1 million in gift cards nationwide," said Kimberly George, director of marketing and development at The Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga.

Thirty children from Chattanooga and Cleveland shopped July 24 at Target on Gunbarrel Road and the Cleveland store on Frontage Road. Salvation Army volunteers, armed with school supply lists, helped children make their selections in supplies and clothing to stretch their gift bucks to cover as much as possible.

Unum: Unum employees donated 150 filled backpacks to children in the shelter of the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter.

To build excitement for the new school year, employees made their delivery at a July 27 carnival that included pizza, popcorn, inflatables, games, reading to the children, face painting and fake tattoos.

Cathy Barrett, Unum community relations manager, said employees donated the supplies and the company funded the carnival.

"These are kids who wouldn't have things they needed otherwise," she said. "We wanted them to be excited about the new school year."

Chattanooga Boys Choir: From volunteering for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank to helping the American Red Cross, the Boys Choir has a long history of community service.

But for the first time, the guys took on a project to provide school supplies for kindergartners. Director Vincent Oakes said Battle Academy was chosen as their recipient since that school is within the same school zone as the choir office.

Oakes said choristers of each training choir were given assignments on what supplies to bring to summer camp.

"Each boy brought a couple of packs of crayons, pencils or paper so it wouldn't be a burden on anyone. Multiply that by 90 kids, and it makes a big dent. The boys saw how when they work together, they can make a big difference," said Oakes.

"This is so awesome!" responded Patty Streip, the academy's family partnership specialist.

"Thank you for thinking of Battle and for helping so many of our new kindergartners start their year with everything they need. And thank you for helping your choristers learn the joy of sharing with other children -- it's a life lesson they'll carry with them always."