Hands On Asheville-Buncombe again is coordinating the collection of school supplies for Asheville and Buncombe County students in need. Photo courtesy of Hands On Asheville-Buncombe.

ASHEVILLE — Due to great need in Asheville and Buncombe County, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe again has been conducting a back-to-school supply drive for elementary and middle-school students.

“Last year, we were able to support 667 students with new fully-stocked backpacks,” said Charlie Lee, volunteer manager at  Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, a program of the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. “We’d love to reach or exceed that goal again this year.”

The drive for new supplies began last month and wraps up tomorrow (Friday, July 22). Monetary contributions also can be sent to Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, 50 S. French Broad Ave., Asheville, N.C., 28801.

According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation and its KIDS COUNT Data Center, a 2009 report indicated that 23 percent or 505,000 of the children in North Carolina were living in poverty. The Foundation also reported that in 2009, 24 percent of the children in the 11th U.S. Congressional District of North Carolina, which encompasses Western North Carolina, were living in poverty. And the County Health Rankings project reports in 2011 that 20 percent of the children in Buncombe County are living poverty.

When it comes to getting ready for school, teachers say a pencil or a pen can make all the difference between a student eventually graduating or dropping out,” Lee said. “Kids often disconnect because they don’t have adequate school supplies they need to learn and achieve. The goal of the Hands On Asheville-Buncombe School Supply Drive is to engage our community in helping at-risk youth get the tools they need to learn and succeed in school.”

Donations will benefit local elementary and middle school students served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, Children First/Communities in Schools, the Literacy Council of Buncombe County, The Mountain Area Child and Family Center, the YMCA of Western North Carolina 21st Century Afterschool Program and The Salvation Army.

Items can be dropped off at:

  • Asheville Savings Bank: 11 Church St., 778 Merrimon Ave., 1879 Hendersonville Road, 10 S. Tunnel Road, 1012 Patton Ave.
  • The YMCA: 30 Woodfin St.; 40 N. Merrimon Ave., Suite 101; 3 Town Square Blvd.
  • The Mountain Area Child and Family Center at 2586 Riceville Road.
  • The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County at 50 S. French Broad Ave.

Find out what supplies are needed for local students by reading the Hands On Asheville-Buncombe 2011 supply drive flyer.

Call (828) 255-0696 or send an e-mail to info@handsonasheville.org for more information.

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Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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