Employees at Regions Bank are thinking outside of the box, all in efforts to help Charlotte area students and teachers prepare for this upcoming school year.
Since 2010, the company has collected school supplies and funds to support Classroom Central, a nonprofit that collects and distributes free school supplies to students and teachers.
Two years ago, Bill Bateman noticed the bank’s internal school supply drive was having a slow start. So, he purchased a pencil costume to step up the promotion.
“I wanted to create greater enthusiasm without putting pressure on people,” said Bateman, the diversified industries credit executive for Regions’ Corporate Banking group. “I carried pencils with me, tapping people on the shoulder; and I told them, in case you don’t know it, there’s a school supply campaign going on.”
And just like that, donations began to roll in.
To date, Regions’ employees have donated over 100 boxes of supplies to Classroom Central.
“Knowing these items are getting directly into the hands of students is so important,” said Kimberly Charles, executive administrative assistant for Regions’ Energy and Natural Resources team, who launched the supply drive in 2010. “It’s providing relief for parents who might have to otherwise decide between food and school supplies.”
Charles joined in on Bateman’s creative promotion by sporting a crayon box costume.
“Bill got me out of my shell in putting that crayon box costume on,” Charles said. “He talked me into it.”
This year, Classroom Central anticipates the need for school supply assistance to double.
Because of the economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic, Carolina parents and families are finding it even more difficult to access supplies for their kids to complete their school year and not fall behind.
According to Classroom Central, about 127,000 children in the Charlotte region lack the basic school supplies they need to be successful in school.
“I’m concerned about how things will go this year,” Charles said. “We’ve traditionally filled 10 to 20 boxes with supplies plus cash donations from our associates.”
The bank increased its annual $250 financial commitment to $2,000 this year.
“It’s important we support our broader communities,” Bateman said. “This is about the power of giving. Many within our community are disadvantaged for one reason or another. We can reach out to help them get themselves to a better place. It helps us get ourselves to a better place.”
Outside of its annual collection, Regions’ employees donate their time to volunteer with Classroom Central and area schools.
“I get to see the full circle,” Bateman said. “I volunteer at Reid (Park Academy). I get to see the Reid Park teachers shop at Classroom Central. I get to see the excitement and appreciation they have. And I see the application of those donated supplies.”
Charles credits Bateman for inspiring her to get more involved with Classroom Central.
“Through Bill, I started going to some of their events,” she said. “I then began volunteering [and] sorting goods at the warehouse. Stocking the shelves at Classroom Central with those supplies gave me a sense of helping the community.”
“Our volunteers, donors and supporters are the lifeblood of what we do,” said Darden Blow, director of community engagement with Classroom Central. “We’re going to really miss seeing volunteers like Bill and Kimberly and the tangible way they promote our drive as we conduct our 2020 campaign virtually.”
Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, WSOC-TV’s 9 School Tools drive 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.
Financial donations to the 9 School Tools program can be made at different levels of giving that support Classroom Central.
- 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.
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