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Help Swain County students with supply drives

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The 2018-2019 school year is right around the corner, and many local businesses, churches and community groups are putting their yearly school supply drive in motion. 

With long lists of supplies sent out by the schools each year, many local parents struggle to cover the expenses necessary to start kids’ year off with a full stock of supplies. Parents with multiple children in particular can be stretched thin by the various expenditures that come with the beginning of the new year. In order to reduce that strain and ensure students at local schools are provided for, many groups contribute to see all students have the tools they need. 

Operation Backpack is one way a local church is contributing to kids in need of supplies locally. In existence for the last 10 years, the program collects backpacks and new school supplies for children in foster care in Swain County. 

To donate, contact info@thegrovechurch.com or call The Grove Church at 488-6164. 

For the second year, Swain County Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Cherokee Office Supply this year for a school supply drive. The goal is to raise $2,000 for this school year. They will partner with Swain County Family Resource Center to identify materials needed and for delivery. 

“We’ve had our school supply drive now for about 15 years. We serve all families in need with referrals coming either from the schools or through DSS. We’re seeing families reach out to us much earlier and a larger number of families as well,” said Melissa Barker, Swain County Family Resource Center director. 

In addition to partnering with Cherokee Office Supply, the center sends letters to churches in Swain County and Hope Ministries, a partnership with churches in Buncombe and Henderson counties.

“It’s our belief that if we equip the students with supplies and the things they need to be successful in school, we’re investing in Swain County as a whole and in Swain County’s future.”

The Family Resource Center is particularly hoping to receive donations of backpacks, since that is the most expensive supply. In addition, all supplies are being accepted including: Crayola crayons and markers, pencils, packs of paper, composition notebooks, headphones, paper towels, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and any other supplies. 

Monetary donations can also be made at the Family Resource Center at 300 Hughes Branch Road. 

“We have certain families who have kids who take it upon themselves to collect donations,” Barker said.  

Donations are preferred by Friday, Aug. 17, but the Family Resource Center continues to collect donations throughout the year. 

The State Employees Credit Union is also a location for dropping off school supplies. The local branch is once again taking part in Governor Roy Cooper’s School Supply Drive that goes through Friday, Aug. 17. Donations are collected and are divided amongst the schools. 

“We have participated in this drive for about 4 years now, and it’s something we’re very passionate about, and we have a list in each branch of the items that are most requested or needed by the schools,” said Annette H. Blanton, senior vice president at SECU Bryson City branch. 

Ingles grocery stores including the location in Bryson City is again having its Tools for Schools program, which will run from July 29, 2018-June 1, 2019. Purchases throughout the year using an Ingles Advantage Card give back to the school a portion of sales. The school can then use those funds to purchase computers or other school supplies. 

To link your card and choose a school, go to www.ingles-markets.com/toolsforschools.

Ingles Markets has contributed more than 15 million to schools in their communities since the program began 20 years ago, according to the site. 

School supply donations are also being collected at Ingles in Bryson City, just make a purchase and drop it off in the labeled grocery cart by the customer service desk. 

Another group in need is youth served by Children’s Hope Alliance including those at Hawthorn Heights and emergency runaway and homeless youth shelter in Bryson City. Monetary donations can be sent to Children’s Hope Alliance, PO Box 99, Webster, NC 28788. If you have donations you would like to give, contact Katie McMillan, local coordinator, at kmmcmillan@childrenshopealliance.org or by cell at 828-231-5413, to arrange pick up. 

Last Saturday, representatives of the Swain County School District attended a school supply drive event at Fred’s in Bryson City. People can still make donations at the store located on Hwy 19 in the Village Plaza. 

Swain County Schools Superintendent Mark Sale, previously Swain County High School Principal, said the need continues for students throughout the year. 

Last year, Swain County High School students in Leader in Me started a donation closet at the school where students could get clothing, hygiene products and school supplies when they need them and could do so privately. 

“They got donations, and now that closet exists for that need,” Sale said. 

It’s not uncommon for school counselors and social workers in the schools to also have supplies for students when they are in need as well, he said. 

“It doesn’t come out of school budgets or from the state; it comes from people who see students who have needs,” Sale said of the donated items. 


Carter Giegerich, reporter with The Franklin Press, contributed to this story.

Smoky Mountain Times

Mailing Address:
PO Box 730
1 River Street
Bryson City, NC 28713 
Phone: 828-488-2189
Fax: 828-488-0315