School Tools drive winds down

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By Jesef Williams

Despite a slow economy, Communities is Schools’ annual School Tools supply drive was able to collect hundreds of school supplies that will benefit area school children in need.

The campaign, which collects pencils, notebooks and other items, began Aug. 1 and will end Tuesday.

This year, locals have been able to donate supplies at one of the BB&T locations in the county – on Main Street in Lancaster and off Charlotte Highway in Indian Land.

BB&T served as the lone drop-off location for the Communities in Schools (CIS) drive this year.

Patricia Whitaker, mentoring coordinator for CIS, said the School Tools drive was more necessary than ever.

“We’re grateful for everything we get, but it’s still not enough,” Whitaker said. “I got people calling us every day looking for school supplies.”

More than 5,500 (49 percent) of all students in the Lancaster County School District qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to a CIS report.

The need for donated schools supplies is great, especially when considering the double-digit unemployment rate, the report said.

“Parents are faced with affording daily necessities to provide for their families,” a CIS release said. “Unfortunately, school supplies take a back seat to these more pressing needs.”

Collecting supplies

WSOC-TV in Charlotte was once again the chief sponsor for the School Tools campaign. Subaru and KISS 95.1 in Charlotte were partners as well.

On Aug. 8, people who brought a handful of school supplies to the Charlotte Knights baseball game were admitted for free. All the supplies donated that night went to Lancaster County.

And on Aug. 21, the U.S. Postal Service collected supplies that residents left at their mailboxes. Some of the postal workers even contributed to the drive, said Terri Lee, the local School Tools coordinator.

“They really went above and beyond to help the students in our county,” Lee said. “Without the postal collection day and the generosity of the residents of Lancaster County, the campaign would not be able to reach as many students.”

Lee doesn’t have an exact number of the amount of supplies collected thus far, but said that organizers have been able to fill six barrels full of supplies.

About Communities  in Schools

Communities in Schools in the nation’s leading community-based dropout-prevention network, helping young people stay in school, successfully learn and prepare for life by connecting needed community resources with schools.

CIS has been in Lancaster County about 15 years.

Contact reporter  Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152