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School supply drives to start soon

Upcoming school supply giveaways

Eighth Annual Back to School Jam

Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Thelma Smith Foundation South Branch, 1435 W. Ridge Road.

The event will feature an onsite dental clinic by Coast to Coast Life Skills Consultant, reading in the park by Great Women and Men United, Inc., free school supplies giveaway, free food, snacks, drinks and hygiene products. Activities provided by Rowan Christian Assembly, waste management and the Salisbury Fire Department. For more information call 704-490-3505
Back to School Bash at Dan Nicholas Park 

Aug. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Dan Nicholas Park shelter number three. Free school back-packs filled with school supplies. Free food, games and amusement tickets while supplies last. The event is hosted by Emmanuel Baptist Church. For more information call 704-630-0909.

Annual Back to School Bash at Rockwell Park

Aug. 25 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rockwell Park. The event will feature a free bounce house and Zorb ball for kids, free school supplies and multiple vendors. Exhibits include the fire department’s Smoke House and a 911 bus. Shaved ice will be available for purchase and local Girl Scouts will be selling food and drinks. Music will be performed by the Rick Thomas Band. The event is hosted by the VFW 9134 Auxiliary. For more information call 704-232-0010.

SALISBURY — As a new school year inches closer, local churches and organizations have begun preparations for classroom supply drives and giveaways.

Rowan County has a high level of poverty — roughly 28 percent of local children live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census, and about 63 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches at school.

“So there are people in town who just don’t have the resources to provide their kids with supplies,” said Ron Turbyfill, executive director of Communities in Schools of Rowan County.

Communities in Schools, a nonprofit agency that aims to improve graduation rates, works in nine of the district’s poorest schools. Many schools served have free and reduced-price lunch rates higher than 80 percent.

While many agencies collect supplies for pickup or hold big distributions, Communities in Schools has a bit of a different model.

“What we do is collect all the supplies and distribute them directly to the nine schools we serve,” Turbyfill said.

On years that it collects more than needed, Communities in Schools donates supplies to other district schools.

But Communities in Schools and other organizations have seen shifting trends in school supply needs.

“The needs are changing, we’re finding, as the schools become more and more engaged with technology and less and less with paper and pencil,” Turbyfill said.

For example, one of the biggest needs is for iPad and iMac compatible earbuds.

“Earbuds are the type of things people don’t think of when you’re talking about school supplies,” he said.

In addition, schools and students no longer request wire-bound notebooks, instead preferring the more traditional composition books for classes. This year, students also need three-ring binders, highlighters, dry-erase markers and colored pencils.

Usually, Communities in Schools of Rowan partners with the Postal Service for a regionwide “School Tools Drive,” but Turbyfill said the Postal Service will not participate this year.

Communities in Schools will participate in WSOC-TV’s School Tools Drive and collect supplies on its own through community partners.

Turbyfill said he and others at Communities in Schools have always been touched by the giving nature of Salisbury.

“This is an amazingly generous community,” he said.

Communities in Schools serves the following schools: Hanford Dole Elementary, Henderson Independent High School, Hurley Elementary, Isenberg Elementary, Knox Middle, Koontz Elementary, North Rowan Elementary, North Rowan Middle and Overton Elementary.

Donation sites for school supplies to benefit Communities in Schools include: The Brian Center; Belk; Church Women United; city of Salisbury offices; Elks Lodge 699 in Kannapolis; Salisbury F&M Bank locations; First Bank on Jake Alexander Boulevard; First United Methodist Church; Food Lion corporate offices and retail business services; Freightliner; Rowan County Literacy Council; Novant Health Rowan Medical Center; Horace Mann Institute; Kannapolis Intimidators stadium; Rufty Holmes Senior Center; Schneider Electric; Smart Start Rowan; St. John’s Lutheran Church; Suntrust Bank in Salisbury; New South Insurance; ARC of Rowan; Trinity Living Center; Trinity Oaks; Milestone Family Medicine; K-Dee’s Jewelers; American Legion Post 342; and the Salisbury branch of the State Employees’ Credit Union.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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