Help Needed for Servant’s Heart’s Back2School Program

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MINT HILL, NC – Servant’s Heart needs Mint Hill’s help to fill book bags for their annual Student School Supply Program.

“Normally we plan our Back2School Program a month and a half to two months prior to giving book bags to the schools and individual students,” says Founder and Executive Director Kim Rhodarmer.  “Even before we begin that venture, we’ve met with counselors and social workers from all K-8 Mint Hill schools in May of the previous school year to determine how many families they anticipate might be unable to purchase supplies in the fall.” 

Supplies for Servants Hearts Back2School Program
Supplies for Servants Hearts Back2School Program

Servant’s Heart works with partners in the community for supplies and packing book bags with every item needed for grades K-8 at six Mint Hill schools.  Servant’s Heart disperses about 125 book bags to children of current clients and delivers an additional 125 book bags to area schools a week before school starts.

When it’s an open house at the school and a parent says to a teacher, ‘I’ll try to get these supplies together, but I don’t know how I’m going to make this happen,’ the teacher can say, ‘Check with a counselor before you leave today,’” says Rhodarmer.  “That parent can go to a counselor and say, ‘I have a child in third grade, and I don’t have supplies for her.’  The counselor can pull a book bag tagged for 3rd grade to give the parent.  That bag contains everything a child needs to attend that grade at that school.”

This year, things are obviously a lot different.  With schools empty since mid-March, none of the initial planning Rhodarmer relies on happened.  Moreover, CMS just reached a final decision regarding what school would look like for the fall last week.  With school starting on the 17th, it doesn’t leave much time for Servant’s Heart to get bags filled and delivered, but Rhodarmer and her team are committed to helping students start the year off right.

“We are moving forward, and we are going to make this happen,” says Rhodarmer.  “Normally we’re working this program two months out.  At this juncture, we’re working two weeks out, but we want our schools to know they’re supported by the community, and we want children to be ready at the onset of remote learning this school year.”

Book bags and supplies for Servants Hearts Back2School Program
Book bags and supplies for Servants Hearts Back2School Program

Last year, Servant’s Heart distributed almost $19K in supplies to local schools including classroom and administrative supplies donated by the community in addition to 251 book bags.  “This year, I’m expecting we’ll probably give out the same number of book bags, or pretty close to it,” says Rhodarmer.  “The difference is going to be the supplies.  The supply list for a child being educated remotely is very different than the supply list for a child attending school in a classroom.”

Normally including fifteen or more very specific items – down to the color and type of folder and brand of a pencil – this year’s lists are shorter and more generic in nature.  “Normally the list is double and triple what we’re seeing this year,” says Rhodarmer.  “For elementary students, for example, we’re seeing very basic things like notebook paper, pencils, crayons, notebooks, scissors, and glue.”  With limited time to prepare and classrooms standing empty this fall, Servant’s Heart will not be collecting administrative and classroom supplies this year.  “Our focus this year is strictly going to be book bags and the school supplies needed to go in them.”

Servant’s Heart will be collecting supplies from the community now through August 10.  Rhodarmer expects to deliver book bags to local schools on August 12, giving schools about five days to get them in the hands of students in need before remote instruction begins on the 17th.   

It may not seem all that imperative to collect school supplies for kids who won’t be setting foot in a school building any time soon, but Rhodarmer believes that getting supplies into the hands of students in need is even more important than in past years.  Whereas in past years a child without a pencil or a sheet of paper could get one from the teacher or share with a friend, kids who don’t have the proper supplies for remote learning will be out of luck.

“This year already holds difficulties,” says Rhodarmer.  “We’re starting with children knowing they can’t go to the classroom.  They’re not going to be with a certified teacher, and they are not going to see their friends.  They’re going to be at home with a parent who may or may not have the time or skillset to educate their child.  We hope our efforts not only give the necessary tools for academic learning but also motivate a child towards learning remotely.  One thing most kids get excited about is the new book bag, the thrill of new supplies.  We’re hoping that when children get brand new book bags filled with new items, it will produce some excitement as they start their academic year.” 

Here are the supplies Servant’s Heart needs: (all items must be new)

  • Rulers
  • 24 pk Crayons
  • 10 pk Markers
  • 12 pk Colored Pencils
  • Black Pens
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpeners
  • Highlighters
  • Glue Sticks
  • 1 Subject Spiral Notebooks
  • 3 Subject Spiral Notebooks
  • 5 Subject Spiral Notebooks
  • Scissors for Children
  • Pencil Boxes or Pouches
  • Earbuds
  • Index Cards
  • Post-It Notes
  • Personal White Boards with Dry Erase Markers

*Donations for assistance programs can be received through the front doors Monday-Saturday from 10-4:30. 

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011.