Eblen Charities' 2011 back-to-school supplies drive. Photo courtesy of the Eblen Charities website.

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Ingles Markets is known for many things that reach far beyond the grocery aisles. When it comes to reaching out to our community, Ingles has set the bar for all who serve Western North Carolina. It is through their kindness and generosity that countless lives are touched each year. And with the need rising in these difficult and troubled times, Ingles again stepped up and once more brought together an amazing group of partners with WLOS, Clear Channel, and the Eblen Charities to ensure that hundreds of students across the mountains begin the school year with the supplies and food they need.

More than 750 students in Western North Carolina received school supplies through Eblen Charities’ 2011 back-to-school supplies drive. Photo courtesy of the Eblen Charities website.

(On Aug. 15), Eblen Charities opened its doors at Westgate to more than 600 families seeking assistance to remain in their homes, keep their power on, have food on their table, have the medication they need, and dozens of other emergency needs.

But in the forefront of what turned out to be the day that Eblen saw more families in their office than ever before, more than 750 students received backpacks, pencils, paper, notebooks, and other school supplies for the upcoming school year from the Ingles trailer set up behind the Eblen Charities offices.

“We easily saw twice the number of families the first day of distributing Tools for Schools as we did last year,” states Bill Murdock, executive director of the Eblen Charities. “We are happy that we were able to help everyone who came to us for school supplies on Monday and we had to go back out twice Monday night and Tuesday to purchase more supplies to meet all the requests.”

On Thursday, Aug. 11, Ingles Markets along with WLOS and Clear Channel joined Eblen Charities in collecting more than 1 million school supplies and snacks at the Ingles on Tunnel Road in a 15-hour marathon drive. This year the program expanded to 13 additional Western North Carolina counties to help provide more students with the supplies and snacks they need. In addition to the (more than 750 students assisted), more than 21,000 snacks were delivered to area primary and elementary schools.

Again our deepest gratitude to Tom Outlaw, Melissa Leavell, David Bay, Lynn Owenby, and everyone from Ingles Markets; Jack Connors, Tammy Watford, Megan Schering, Adam Mcanulty, Estee Felton, and all involved from WLOS; and to Jeff Davis, Josh Michaels, Eddie Foxx, Sharon Green, Brian Hatfield, Brian Hall, Caroline Early and all from Clear Channel; the staff and volunteers of the Eblen Charities, and everyone who joined us by donating to Tools for Schools for showing the true heart of our community. Thanks as well to Hunts, Sun Maid, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Quaker, General Mills, Conagra, and numerous others for their generous donations.

If you, your company or organization would like to join us in continuing to provide needed school supplies, please contact Susan Riddle at the Eblen Charities at (828) 255-3066, Ext. 11 or via e-mail at sriddle@eblencharities.org.

Kathleen O'Nan

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

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