School Supply Drive: Why Highlands Circle Gives Back

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Summer officially started on June 21, but we're already looking ahead to the first day of the 2015-2016 school year. Sometimes the difference between an A student and a failing student is having basic school supplies to do homework and participate in class. Nearly one in four children in our community live in poverty and can’t afford tools like notebooks, pencils, or backpacks to start the school year. Our annual school supply drive has set a goal of 1,200 fully-stocked backpacks so all students are ready to learn. You'll find more information on our website.

Highlands Circle's Longest-Running Project

When a group of young leaders formed Highlands Circle 10 years ago, they decided to align the group with an annual project that would have long-lasting impact on the community. That idea resulted in the annual Back to School Supply Drive. Last year was the most successful yet, providing 1,101 backpacks full of supplies for local kids and teens. We asked some current members why they think the drive is still important today.

One Goal, Many Reasons

"Last year I had the pleasure of seeing some of the littles from Big Brothers Big Sisters come by to pick out their backpacks. I was overwhelmed by their excitement. I watched one young lady excitedly weed through the mountain of backpacks and choose her bag. She quickly opened it up and her face lit up with joy as she discovered all of the great supplies inside. She then put it on her back and proudly walked out of the room with a HUGE smile on her face.  I noticed that her guardian (perhaps her mom or possibly her grandmother) was walking out behind her with a smile on her face just as big as the young lady’s. She not only appeared happy to see her child so happy, but she had a true look of relief on her face. It was a truly touching moment. I look forward to giving many more children that same experience this year through our Back to School Supply Drive." Kris Dionne, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County

"Helping with the back to school drive is important to me because it makes an immediate difference in the lives of the students. Not only does it provide them with the tools necessary to get their work done, it also helps provide the self-esteem needed to excel."Ben Greenberg, Teague Campbell Dennis & Gorham

"It breaks my heart to think of how a child must feel when showing up to their first school day empty-handed, and how their parents must feel when they find themselves unable to provide for them. That’s why I become giddy with excitement this time of year, just as I did in grade school – I have an excuse to shop, and I get to contribute to a fresh start for our local youth!" Audrey Johnson, Mission Health

"I've worked with children living in poverty before, and I know that having basic school supplies makes a difference on day one of the school year. I participate so that I know that our students don't have to play catch up."Andy Gmitter, Galaxy Digital

"An avid school supply collector, I've matured into an office supply enthusiast. The school supply drive is a reality check for me: it has been humbling to learn about the distressing number of students whose families are unable to purchase back-to-school essentials while my own supplies collect dust on my infrequently used desk at home. I work in higher education admissions and talk with prospective students every day who are hesitant to follow their dreams because of negative learning experiences in the past.  Something as basic as not having school supplies could be that negative experience for a student, shaping the rest of his educational future and, in turn, his life trajectory. The pages of the notebooks collected through the school supply drive will be filled with more than just assignments; they’ll be filled with the possibilities education creates for one's future. I am committed to playing my part in supplying students with confidence, hope, and excitement as they begin another school year."Elisa Jacobs, Lenoir-Rhyne University

"With two school supply drives behind me, my enthusiasm and support for this initiative cannot be stronger. It is truly humbling to learn that nearly one in four children in our community live in poverty and cannot afford supplies for the upcoming school year. I participate in the school supply drive to help spread the word about this community need and to be a small part of preparing some of our local children for success. I have been inspired by the response within our community in prior years. Here's to preparing our local children for educational success … 2015 School Supply Drive – 1,200 fully-stocked backpacks here we come!" Ashley van Twisk Allen Bryson, Johnson Price Sprinkle PA

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