Local corporations will continue to bring color to the lives of area students in the next few weeks with Bissell Companies’ seventh annual Color the Park marker drive benefiting Classroom Central.
The event will take place July 28 to Aug. 1 in and around Bissell’s Ballantyne Corporate Park. Area businesses collected more than 13,000 packs of markers last year for children who needed school supplies.
“We’re hoping to help those students who need school supplies,” said Christina Thigpen, the director of marketing and public relations at Bissell.
Companies in the Ballantyne Corporate Park will set up bins in their lobbies to collect packs of markers. Tenants in the park set up teams within their organizations to collect the school supplies and wage a friendly battle against other tenants in hopes of topping each other in donations. Businesses participating include American Honda Finance Corporation, AXA Advisors, BAE Systems, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, Ballantyne Business Center, Bank of America, Carlisle Companies, Computer Services Inc., Courtyard by Marriott Charlotte Ballantyne, Eaton Group, ERM, Extended Stay, The Hanover Insurance Group, MetLife, OrthoCarolina, Premier, The Remi Group, Sompo Japan, SPX and XPO Logistics.
“We are committed to creating a true sense of community within Ballantyne Corporate Park, and our facilitation of charitable drives such as the Color the Park marker drive plays a key role in this,” Howard Bissell III, senior vice president and director at Bissell, said. “We continue to be impressed with our tenants’ enthusiasm and generosity toward these efforts to benefit the greater Charlotte community.”
Classroom Central helps approximately 135,000 children and 9,000 educators in more than 200 schools in six districts, including Mecklenburg and Union counties, replenish school supplies to those in need.
“What Classroom Central does is provide school supplies to children living in poverty,” said Lauren Johnson, the director of communications at Classroom Central.
Color the Park serves as a prime example of an effective way to run a school supply drive, Johnson said. She felt making a competition out of the program and focusing only on one item would make the program most effective. The donations supplied markers to students throughout the entire school year last year, Johnson said.
“It’s fun to pick an item that is fun to purchase and is still helpful,” Thigpen added.
Classroom Central relies solely on donations to fund the children’s needs and receives no government funding. More than 54 percent of the region’s students are living in poverty, according to Classroom Central’s website.
“When students have the school supplies that they need, they can feel prepared in school,” Thigpen said. “If they have the tools that they need, they can be successful.”
Johnson said many people don’t realize how many students are living in poverty and Classroom Central works to give those students some relief. The group has four programs to help alleviate school supply shortages in impoverished areas: Classroom Central Free Store, where teachers from schools with a more than 50 percent free or reduced lunch rate can receive supplies for their classrooms; Classroom Up, which allows teachers to order essential school supplies to be delivered to the school; Classroom Central Mobile Free Store, which ships pallets of essential school items to schools geographically further from the Free store; and Backpacks & Basics, which outfits schools with a more than 85 percent free or reduced lunch rate with supply kits and backpacks for their entire student body.
“Students should not have the burden of living without school supplies so they can be better equipped in the classroom,” Johnson said.
Thigpen said the drive is a positive opportunity for the community. “It’s nice to gather the corporate community and the greater community to help get students prepared for the school year.”
Community members who wish to donate to the drive marker and/or make school supply donations must place them in blue barrels in the building lobbies before noon Aug. 1, a Friday, at businesses located around 13860 Ballantyne Corporate Place.