Stephenie McLean speaks to the children at E. B. Jordan Homes about how bright their futures are before handing out school supplies.
Kelsey Padgett | Times
Stephenie McLean, director of regional community development for GCF, gives school supplies to Trevion McDowell, who will be starting second grade, and his brother Joshua McDowell, who will be starting kindergarten. The supply kids included a ruler, notebooks, pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons, glue sick and eraser.
Kelsey Padgett | Times
By Kelsey Padgett
Times Staff Writer
More than 100 children in the Wilson Housing Authority neighborhoods went home Tuesday with brand new school supplies thanks to the Goodwill Community Foundation.
The director of regional community development, Stephenie McLean, said the Goodwill Community Foundation has a goal to distribute 10,000 school supplies kits to the children of eastern North Carolina before the end of the year.
“Our aim is to assist parents in stretching their budgets, as well as helping students and their academic achievement,” McLean said.
“This is an initiative from the organization to fill a need and reach children where they are. We have distributed 5,200 kits so far this year and have more events coming up.”
The supply kits include a ruler, three composition notebooks, five No. 2 pencils, a pencil sharpener, hand sanitizer, crayons, a glue stick and an eraser.
She said she knows the supplies will not last all year, but she hopes it is enough to get the kids started.
The supplies are purchased with donations made to the GCF donation centers and stores. The kits are then assembled by volunteers.
McLean said the organization has been giving out school supply kits for seven years, and her favorite part is always seeing the children get excited when they receive their kit.
“Our main goal is to reach children and families who are from socioeconomic backgrounds that it might be tight for them to buy new school supplies,” she said.
At Whitfield Homes, 65 children received new supplies, and 42 kits were distributed at E. B. Jordan Homes.
Wilson Housing Authority President Kelly Vick said he believes the community centers make a great meeting place for projects like this where children can be provided with what they need.
“We are definitely not trying to overshadow the Wilson County Schools’ backpack giveaway, but some of our residents do not have the transportation to get to the location that the school system sets up annually,” Vick said.
He said he is thankful that GCF was gracious enough to help by coming directly to them.
Shenita Swinson took her three children to the event and she said she is grateful to have the help.
“A lot of people struggle to get school supplies at the beginning of the year,” Swinson said. “It’s a lot easier on the parents when you have someone who is willing to help out and give your children something.”
Carla Hinnant has two grandchildren who are getting ready to go back to school. She said it means a lot to her to have help lightening the load.
“I have sole custody of my grandchildren, so that support and the fact that there are resources out there in the community that can help the less fortunate that want to do for their kids but don’t have the resources,” said Hinnant.
Catherine Taylor said she took her five grandchildren to get school supplies so she will have more money to help their parents buy other things they need for school.
“It means a great deal to me, because it’s hard out here,” Taylor said. “To not have to spend this money on supplies means there is more money for me to buy them clothes with.”
McLean said it is not just about helping the parents, but also about giving the children the tools they need to be successful. She shared those inspiring words with the children.
“You might be the person that has the next great idea,” she said to the children at E.B. Jordan. “Did you know that you might be the person that helps save the world? Because you study hard, you might be the next person that builds something really cool, and because you’re uniquely you, you bring something to world that no one else can.”