Bank of America employees step up to support Charlotte teachers, students

Bank of America employees step up to support Charlotte teachers, students

Each year, Bank of America Charlotte employees volunteer their time to support Classroom Central with equipping teachers and students with free school supplies.

But due to social distancing measures resulting from COVID-19, those efforts will look a little different this year.

Charlotte-based BofA has organized a virtual school supply collection to help the nonprofit reach its fundraising goal of $100,000.

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“Bank of America has a strong partnership with Classroom Central,” said Thomas Gambrel, community volunteers team leader at Bank of America. “In the current environment with social distancing, Classroom Central is going above and beyond to get the necessary school supplies to schools and teachers so that students can be prepared for the upcoming school year.”

For Gambrel, this community effort is personal because he said Classroom Central’s mission is tied to his past experiences as an educator.

“Before working at Bank of America, I was a teacher in Nashville, Tennessee,” Gambrel said. “I have firsthand experience of students not having school supplies for class, which hindered their ability to learn the material being taught.”

Like many teachers, Gambrel would find himself filling that void by purchasing supplies for his students in need.

“To ensure all of my students were prepared for class, I would use my own money to buy the necessary supplies, so they had everything [they] needed to be successful,” Gambrel said.

Annually, teachers spend $500 to $1,000 on their students. Classroom Central works to alleviate that burden.

The organization serves teachers and students in nearly 200 schools across six districts in North and South Carolina.

“Classroom Central is one way I stay connected to my education background, and I am proud to be involved with their initiative,” Gambrel said.

Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed free to students in grades K-12.

Gambrel believes these donations not only prepare students for class, but also boost their confidence.

“When students are prepared, it makes a great difference in their ability to learn, gain confidence, and be successful,” he said. “When students are confident in their ability to do their school work well, they tend to enjoy doing it, and they look forward to learning new things that build on prior knowledge.”

Without the donations, many students in our community would be at risk for falling behind in their schoolwork.

For many families, the needs of the home sometimes outweigh needs at school. When a family must choose between buying enough food for dinner or paying the power bill, the pressure of purchasing school supplies is an added expense that families can’t afford.

A 9 School Tools financial donation program is in place with different levels of giving that will support the needs of Classroom Central.

“For every dollar that is donated, Classroom Central is able to get $9 worth of school supplies,” Gambrel said. “Even the smallest donations to this fundraiser can go a long way in providing teachers with supplies for their students.”

Donors can equate their monetary donation to what can be supplied by Classroom Central.

Here are some of the giving levels:

  • A donation of $9 will help provide homework supplies for students.
  • A donation of $25 will help fill a student’s backpack with school supplies.
  • A donation of $50 will supply a teacher with essential school items.
  • A donation of $100 will supply an entire class with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) kits.

You can also donate school supplies at any Showmars, Ashley HomeStore and E.R. Plumbing Services until August 14.

Learn more about 9 School Tools at