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Communities in Schools goes Christmas shopping

Communities in Schools

SALISBURY — Jennifer Myers, an associate at the Salisbury office of Thrivent Financial, was looking for a worthwhile Christmas project for her workplace team. It took just one phone call to match her with a worthy cause — to help local school kids improve their attendance and chances of success in school.

The call was one Myers placed to Ron Turbyfill, executive director of Communities in Schools of Rowan County.

“Can you take my staff on a shopping trip?” Turbyfill asked when he heard about Thrivent’s desire to help.

Commnities in Schools is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student performance by helping them achieve attendance, behavior and performance goals. In Rowan County, the organization serves Hanford Dole, Hurley, Isenberg, Koontz, North Rowan and Overton elementary schools; Knox and North Rowan middle schools; and Henderson Independent High School.

Turbyfill’s idea was to provide CIS staffers the opportunity for each of them to help pick out clothing for their schools’ clothing closets. And Thrivent jumped on board.

Turbyfill and CIS student support specialists planned to meet Myers and her teammate, Kim Fraley at the Lee Clothing Warehouse in Kannapolis, on Monday to purchase clothing needed at the nine Rowan-Salisbury schools where they work.

“We opened an hour early so that we could help them find everything they needed,” store manager Darrell Jackson said.

CIS staff prepared lists of items ahead of time so that some of the shopping carts were already filled by the time the group arrived.

When they arrived at 9 a.m., members of the team fanned out through the store comparing items on their own lists of student needs. Each staff member calculated the purchases as he went along, hoping to stay within the total $4,000 budget given by Myers and her Thrivent team.

“If it goes over a little, that’ll be OK,” Myers reassured the shoppers. But the shoppers were still careful to stay within budget as much as possible.

Myers and Fraley went to help out at the checkout line, removing inventory tags and helping sort and pack items by school. The final total came to $4,140.

The trip netted more than 800 items of clothing for students at the nine schools.

“We supply a lot of things besides shirts and pants,” said Lyn Wilson, student support specialist at North Rowan Elementary School.

When a child has an accident and needs a change of clothing during the day, many times a parent can’t come.

“We can make sure that they have clean and dry underwear and pants no matter what happens,” she said.

After about two hours, Thrivent and CIS staffers drove away with cars full of clothing, ready to stock school closets with pants, shirts, socks, underwear, winter hats, gloves and sweatshirts, all for students. Now when clothing needs arise, they’ll be ready.

Communities in Schools is a member agency of the Rowan County United Way.

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