Former teacher said she was called to help serve students in need

Former teacher said she was called to help serve students in need

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 Page McEachern.

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“As a former teacher, I was inspired when I heard Karen Calder, the executive director of Classroom Central, speak about the work of Classroom Central and the extensive need in Mecklenburg County and the surrounding districts,” McEachern said.

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

McEachern said she was called to volunteer after learning about the significant number of children in need of school supplies.

According to Classroom Central, about 127,000 children in the Charlotte region lack the basic school supplies they need to be successful in school.

“No child should be unable to learn because of a lack of supplies,” McEachern said.

She began volunteering weekly in Classroom Central’s free store, a retail setting where teachers and other school personnel from eligible schools shop for free supplies ― checking teachers in and performing data entry.

“Teachers see the needs of their students and too often spend considerable money of their own trying to provide for their students,” McEachern said. “At Classroom Central, teachers can shop monthly for not only pencils and paper but from a list of over 40 school supply and related items.”

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the nonprofit to switch its volunteer operations to remote service, McEachern signed up to continue her sense of duty.

“During the pandemic, I have packaged kits of homework and dental and art supplies, as well as made flash cards for teachers and students to use for math and reading,” she said.

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

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.

“Income disparity is considerable in our schools, and many parents often have to choose whether to spend their limited funds on food, housing, utilities, medical needs or other necessities,” McEachern 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.

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 www.9SchoolTools.com.