Hundreds of at-risk students in the Kannapolis City Schools will get new school uniforms this year, thanks to a donation by Charlotte-based department store chain Belk.The uniform donation was part of a second annual campaign that partners with the United Way of Central Carolinas. This year it distributed 3,300 uniforms throughout Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union counties. Belk representatives delivered 1,000 uniforms to the Kannapolis schools’ administrative offices on Aug. 12. Last year, KCS got roughly 800 uniforms. Dakita Sanders, a community relations specialist for Belk, said the department store has donated about 8,500 two-piece uniforms over the past two years. The total value of the uniforms distributed is estimated at more than $200,000. A new component to the school uniform drive this year is an online donation site, where people can donate new or gently used uniforms by visiting belk.com/uniforms.The partnership started in five schools in Mecklenburg County and has since grown into an initiative involving seven different United Way agencies that serve more than 20 schools across three counties. Locally, the Academic Learning Center and Cannon Memorial YMCA help school counselors distribute uniforms. The Kannapolis school system serves about 5,500 students. Roughly 75 percent of them receive free or reduced-price lunches, said system Superintendent Pamela Cain. Students with the greatest need will be given uniforms first. If you need assistance, contact your students’ school. “This donation truly makes a huge, huge difference for our schools. It helps the students focus on academics, and we find there are fewer discipline problems,” said Cain. “I think many of the families struggle, especially when they have two or three kids. Without this donation, they would wear older uniforms that possibly didn’t fit or were not as in good a shape as you’d like them to be.”Barbi Jones, community director for the United Way of Cabarrus County, agreed that without such donations, families would feel an added burden. “This gives families more options in clean clothes, but the main thing is it really levels the playing field, so that students look exactly like their peers. They’re in really nice uniforms … and they can concentrate on learning, which is what they’re here to do,” said Jones. “It’s a huge donation, and it makes such a huge impact.”Adam Orvos, Belk’s chief financial officer, said the donation allows the company to combine its retail acumen with its passion for philanthropy. Academic success, he said, only can come when the community works together.“Belk consistently runs one of the United Way’s 10 largest campaigns, because we believe in the impact the organization makes,” he said. “Agencies funded by United Way improve the lives of not only children who can’t afford uniforms but help parents find jobs, stabilize homes and much more.”Because of the success of the Belk/United Way partnership, Belk has expanded the uniform donation effort to markets in Georgia and Mississippi.
Monday, Aug. 19, 2013
Belk, United Way deliver hundreds of school uniforms
Want to donate? Call 704-426-8333 or visit belk.com/uniforms or uwcentralcarolinas.org/belk-uniforms.
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