Going back to school can be an exciting time. But, it can also be a struggle for families and teachers who may not have everything they need for a successful school year.
“The need is great,” said United Way of Hartsville, Joann Delong, about back-to-school essentials in Hartsville, S.C. “With a poverty rate of 36 percent, it definitely hits many families very hard.” Each year, her organization asks schools to determine their greatest needs. Delong notes that traditional school supplies like notebooks and index cards are requested, but schools also ask for other student needs including personal hygiene items, coats and even beds.
School supply drives may seem commonplace in many communities in the Carolinas, but they’re essential for schools with students struggling to obtain the basic supplies necessary to facilitate learning. And, it seems, there can never be enough organizations donating supplies.
As Delong explained, while multiple organizations in the Hartsville area distribute backpacks to schools, supplies used to be limited to elementary students; there weren’t enough items for middle and high school classes. Working with several organizations, including Robinson Nuclear Plant, United Way of Hartsville can now help more students of all grade levels. “I can't tell you what a blessing it is to know that we're able to meet such a great need,” said DeLong.
In 2018, Duke Energy nuclear workers donated more than 1,600 backpacks filled with supplies as well as hundreds of classroom materials for schools in the Carolinas. Our nuclear plants have been collection sites for back-to-school supplies for many years, and help fulfill the needs of local schools in other ways, too.
At Harris Nuclear Plant, employees not only donated book bags and classroom supplies, but also copies of “Marie’s Electric Adventure,” a children’s book written by Duke Energy’s North American Young Generation in Nuclear chapter about a young girl’s quest to turn her nightlight back on.
While some sites, like Robinson Nuclear Plant, work with local partners, others donate directly to schools. Oconee Nuclear Station volunteers gathered supplies for the School District of Oconee County’s preschool programs for children with special needs. Additionally, volunteer support made it possible for the School District of Oconee County to receive a $500 Duke Energy Foundation grant.
This year, McGuire Nuclear Station decided to focus on one local school, Catawba Springs Elementary, to provide classroom essentials. “Many of our families are unable to supply basic supplies for their children,” said Catawba Springs Principal, Kristi Smith. “Thank you to McGuire Nuclear Station for partnering with our school to help provide our students with necessary school materials.”