Kannapolis’ annual backpack giveaway for the children of the Carver and Centerview neighborhoods, near Dale Earnhardt and South Cannon boulevards, focuses on helping kids start right.
City employees on Aug. 12 distributed more than 200 backpacks filled with school supplies for children during a community event that allows residents to engage with each other, city employees and elected officials. The event is about 10 years old.
The National Retail Federation’s annual survey says total spending on back-to-school items could reach $74.9 billion this year, up about 3 percent from $72.5 billion in 2013. The average family with students in kindergarten through high school will spend roughly $669, up about 5 percent from last year, according to the survey.
According to the National School Supply Lists Directory, required school supply lists for the 2014-15 year contain on average 18 items, a 29 percent increase from 2013.
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Dorothy Carr, a Kannapolis resident looking for supplies for her children ages 8, 12 and 15, attended the event with her friend Ethel Sterling, whose children are ages 10 and 5.
The women said the effort helps students avoid feeling insecure about being ill-prepared, and that helps them focus on learning.
“It just helps us out in a really special way,” Carr said.
“This is a great help because school supplies are expensive,” Sterling said. “I think it’s a great thing that the community supports this wonderful work. …”
Longtime Kannapolis resident Shelia Pinkston, chairwoman of the Centerview Community Watch, took over the effort about four years ago. Although the need isn’t as bad as it has been in previous years, hundreds still show up at the growing annual event.
“The first year that I did it, it was very tearful and heartwarming,” said Pinkston.
She recalled a memory from that first event, where she handed out backpacks to a family with three children who had just moved to the neighborhood.
“This family just really appreciated it. They came back to me and showed me some love. … And that right there proved to me I was able to help a family.”
Others have given her thank-you cards or stopped her at the grocery store to express repeated gratitude – that’s what keeps her coming back to help.
City Council member Tom Kincaid has been involved with the giveaway for three years.
“We stuff the backpacks with all the supplies we can gather to give them a good start, because if we can get them started on the right foot, hopefully they can end on the right foot,” said Kincaid.
“These kids and these communities are what’s going to bring Kannapolis back. If we can build communities, Kannapolis city will build itself. But we have got to work in these communities.”
Sharnelle Simpson, the environmental outreach coordinator for Kannapolis, said the event also educates residents about city services.
“We’re going to be educating about recycling, stormwater (services). … And then we have the fire department’s safety house that will teach people how to escape if there’s a fire,” Simpson said before the event. “Not only are we giving the kids supplies, but we’re also educating the kids and parents about the things we do throughout the city. We’re here to learn and have a good time.”