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Ballantyne businesses to ‘Color the Park’

by Morgan Smith

The Ballantyne Corporate Park Color the Park School Supplies Drive will kick off July 25, where tenants and community members are working to raise 25,000 packs of markers for Classroom Central, a local free store benefiting area students in need. Photo courtesy of Remi Group

At the Remi Group office in Ballantyne Corporate Park, employees are watching for Back to School ads and coupons as they gear up for the fifth annual Color the Park School Supplies Drive.

The group is known for their competitive nature when it comes to in-house school supply and food drives over the past few years, typically splitting up by departments and forming teams. But this year, they’re taking a different approach to raise the stakes of the competition.

“This year, it’s based on an individual basis … we have some pretty competitive people in the office, so we thought we would mix it up,” Jennifer Daugherty, the group’s team captain for the project, said. Last year, the group brought in 1,000 packs of markers. “We’re hoping to get over 1,000 – we’ll see how this works.”

Just five years ago, the Color the Park drive raised 1,000 packs of markers overall. Now, after collecting more than 21,000 packs of markers last year, Ann Saari, the program organizer, said she hopes to see the corporate park and its tenants raise 25,000 packs beginning later this month.

The drive is for Classroom Central, a free store for teachers that supports more than 100,000 children in the Charlotte area in need of school supplies. Last year, the store gave out 36,000 packs of markers.

“The need is so large and even with our collection last year, the need is still there,” Saari said.

Every year, Classroom Central runs out of markers, Saari added. The store requested the corporate park focus solely on markers to ensure kids across the area have the supplies they need. Saari hopes the community will get involved this year, as well.

“We would definitely love to get the community more involved,” she said. “They are welcome to drop off markers in any of our building lobbies.” This is the first year the corporate park is proactively trying to get the community involved, starting with businesses outside of the park such as Sam’s Club in Pineville.

“There are a lot more people in the community participating,” Saari said, adding that anyone can participate. “We encourage monetary (donations) and packs of markers. A lot of people like to go to the store and physically buy markers.”

The drive starts July 25 and runs until Aug. 2 at noon. Each pack of markers costs around $1, which will help one child in need, Saari said.

At Remi Group, the individual employee who racks up the largest amount of markers has their choice of two passes for 18 holes of golf at the Golf Club at Ballantyne or $200 to spend on any kind of spa treatment.

The business, which specializes in equipment maintenance management programs for major businesses and organizations, has been privileged financially over the past several years, Daugherty said.

“As a company, we’ve been very lucky during the down economy – our business actually increased,” Daugherty said. “As other companies were having budget cuts, we were thriving. It’s really the least we can do for those who are less fortunate,” she added about the supply drive.

For Remi Group, Daugherty has been hard at working with advertising. “I created a flier, reminding everybody to check their sale papers,” she said. “Just get as many markers as you can to beat last year’s number.”

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