‘Service above self’ motto for Rotarian, Classroom Central volunteer

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 Catherine Bracey, a member of the Charlotte Rotary Club.

“Classroom Central’s staff is to be commended for the way they value volunteers,” Bracey said. “I’ve never left from a volunteer assignment without feeling that my work was meaningful and valued.”

Bracey and other Rotarians help teachers load items in their cars after shopping in Classroom Central’s free store, a retail setting where teachers and other school personnel from eligible schools shop for free supplies.

“The Rotarian motto is “Service Above Self.”


“Teachers have often carried the financial burden of ensuring that all children in their classroom have the supplies needed to educate the children,” Bracey said. “It’s a privilege to get to interact and assist teachers with needed classroom 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.

“Lack of financial support or parental attention could drive the need for school supplies for many students,” Bracey said. “In the midst of a pandemic when parents and grandparents can be out-of-work and focused on shelter and food, school supplies [that are] needed to be successful in the classroom may carry no or a low household priority.”

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.

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.