More than 2,500 local students received backpacks and other school supplies donated by the Carolina Panthers football team at a drive-thru giveaway on Monday, according to Cumberland County Schools.
Volunteers and employees of Balm in Gilead Family Counseling Ministries distributed the free supplies and hot meals to students and their families at the ministry’s campus on Doc Bennett Road, according to a school system news release.
The Panthers donated 5,000 backpacks and other school supplies to CCS for students in need.
“We are here to help each other,” said Vivian Rhone, president and CEO of Balm in Gilead. “It’s so important to realize that there are people who get into circumstances that they never thought they would be in and are facing a dilemma.”
In addition to backpacks, volunteers distributed 2,480 hygiene supply bags, 748 grocery bundles and 2,361 hot meals, the release said.
“Today is an example of what we mean in our strategic plan about successful students and committed community,” said CCS Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr., who noted that some grocery bundles supplied families with over 70 pounds of food.
The volunteer group included high school students and central services staff members, the release said.
Cape Fear High School’s student government was represented by students including senior Miranda Lee and junior class President Taylor Woodard.
“I am most excited about seeing people's faces when they receive their goods,” said Lee. “I am so glad we get this opportunity to help people in their time of need, but my goal is just to make one person smile.”
“My goal for today is to make everybody happy and try to help as many people as we can,” he said. “That’s something that makes me happy and is something we should do.”
Alysia Allen, a cheerleader at Gray’s Creek High School, said it’s important to volunteer, the release said.
“It's really great that all of these communities can come together,” Allen said. “We could all be in the same predicament as those in need, so I think it's really important to give back.”
Most of the district’s nearly 50,000 students will return to class on Monday.
Dawn Larson, the health science teacher in South View High School, also was among the volunteers.
“There are a lot of hard things about teaching, but this is the good stuff — seeing the community come together and seeing students out here helping each other,” Larson said in the release.
Students who missed Monday’s giveaway can contact Balm in Gilead at 910-424-2645.
To donate school supplies, contact a neighborhood school or the school systems community engagement office at 910-678-2303.