Charlotte retiree donates time preparing teachers, students for school

For many nonprofits, volunteers are essential to keeping the organization moving forward.

Last year, Charlotte’s Classroom Central, a nonprofit that distributes free school supplies to teachers and students, reported that more than 2,000 individuals donated over 13,000 hours of their time to support the organization.

One of those volunteers is Carol Gray-Adler.

“Education is very important to me and supporting our teachers is one of the keys to student success,” Gray-Adler said.

She donates her time to support the front desk of the nonprofit’s free store and to perform data entry.

Classroom Central’s free store is a retail operation where teachers and other school personnel from eligible schools shop for free supplies.

“I enjoy seeing the teachers every week and have gotten to know several monthly ‘regulars’,” Gray-Adler said. “They are very dedicated to their students and appreciate what Classroom Central does for them.”

Every school year, area teachers spend $500 to $1,000 of their own money on basic school supplies for their students. Classroom Central works to alleviate that burden.

“We have a large wealth gap in Charlotte,” Gray-Adler said. “Many parents are working low-paying jobs, sometimes just to cover the family basics ― school supplies are often not something a family can afford when rent and heating are priorities.”

In addition to volunteering, Gray-Adler has organized an annual neighborhood school supply collection for Classroom Central for the last four years.

“Another way to help support Classroom Central is to hold a supply drive,” she said. “We have collected over 1,800 items every year.”

Because of social distancing measures resulting from the coronavirus, many students will split their time between online and in-school learning this upcoming school year.

But even with remote learning, students will still need basic supplies such as pencils, paper and notebooks. Between this and the economic downturn, families are finding it even more difficult to access supplies for their kids to complete their school year and not fall behind.

Many of the more vulnerable and low-income families depend on Classroom Central for assistance.

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.

Covering 22 counties, 9 School Tools is the largest school supply drive in the Carolinas and will run now through August 14.

You can donate the school supplies at any Showmars, Ashley HomeStore and E.R. Plumbing Services.


Financial donations can also be made to the 9 School Tools program at different levels of giving that support Classroom Central.

For example:

  • 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.


Learn more about 9 School Tools at