Having basic needs items, like school supplies, is important not only for a student’s physical ability to do their classwork, but also for their emotional well-being and self-esteem. For children living in poverty, items like pencils and paper are not always purchases their families can afford to make. When faced with the choice of paying rent or fulfilling a list of necessary supplies for a classroom, the former typically takes precedent. Site coordinator Nataline Purdy explains, “Unfortunately, many of our students have a lot to deal with at home that can cause them to be unprepared for school. By helping them with school supplies and other basic needs items, we alleviate the stress and lack and help them move forward with positivity, ready for the day”. At Communities In Schools of Tennessee (CISTN), our site coordinators work to connect students with the resources they need to fight the barriers put in place by poverty and other outside influences – from basic needs items like school supplies and clothing to homelessness, lack of healthcare or behavioral interventions – allowing them to focus on their studies and their futures, not on what they don’t have.
This school year, CISTN at Memphis is able to eliminate one barrier with ease thanks to our being chosen as the beneficiary of school supplies collected in the Fox 13 School Supply Drive. Sponsored by Fox 13, Knowledge Tree and Jack Pirtle’s Chicken, the event spanned the month of July and asked Memphians to come together for a common goal – to help children and their families get what they need to begin the school year prepared and empowered to succeed. The Memphis community’s generosity was evident throughout the month as supplies were collected. From our kickoff event at sponsor Knowledge Tree’s Teacher Appreciation Day, to the Fox 13 Collection Day at Poplar Plaza and to the wrap-up last chance push at sponsor Jack Pirtle’s Chicken, individuals, families, business owners and entire offices eagerly brought bags of supplies and monetary donations to support our students.
As the month long endeavor ended and we gathered together with Fox 13, Jack Pirtle’s Chicken and Knowledge Tree to sort and categorize the supplies received, we had no idea what to expect. To our amazement, as we burrowed through box after box of markers, crayons and folders, counting and categorizing, it was revealed that over 15,000 school supplies had been donated for our students by generous Memphians! The excitement over just how many children would be affected by this overwhelming display of giving was palpable and continues every day as the supplies are given to kids that need them most in the schools we serve. As site coordinator Candice Fondren said, “the smiles and excitement on their faces are priceless”.
Because of the donations collected during the Fox 13 School Supply Drive, students in the 20 Memphis Schools we serve will have the items they need for class this year, eliminating one more roadblock to their success. The community of support displayed by the Fox 13 Supply Drive is the heart of the CISTN mission and we are honored to have been chosen as its beneficiary.