Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is facing more budget cuts. The community is bracing for another round of teacher layoffs.
But one certainty for both CMS and the community is that the Charity League of Charlotte will be its partner in providing essential services for schoolchildren.
The local nonprofit is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, and its mission has remained the same: To help children in need in the community, said Brenda Rorie, longtime member and treasurer of the organization.
"The situation in the schools today requires all charitable organizations to help out more," said Rorie. "Where else will the school system and the children get help?"
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To fund its services to children and schools, the Charity League hosts fundraisers each year. The 30th Annual Fashion Show will be held March 31 at Carmel Country Club.
The show will include fashions from Mack and Mack Charlotte, a local women's apparel boutique at 6401 Morrison Blvd. The shop, owned by Pamela Melton, features designers from across the U.S. There also will be a silent auction.
The Charity League's contributions to CMS students and schools include the donation of 6,000 snacks for children who arrived too late in the morning to get breakfast. The league supplies schools with thousands of uniforms, socks, underwear, sweatpants and tops, coats, backpacks, school supplies, health room supplies, Accelerated Reader and Families Reading Every Day books and snacks for an extended-day program.
"We help supply the needs and services for children at 18 CMS schools," said Rorie. The Charity League funds a Greater Enrichment Program after-school and summer enrichment program for low-income, at-risk children in the Charlotte, purchasing supplemental school tools and enrichment activities including games, flashcards, student dictionaries, calculators and beanbags and rugs for quiet time.
Rorie said the Charity League hopes to raise from $30,000 to $40,000 this year.
"We don't give money directly to CMS," said Rorie. "Instead, we give money to programs that are operated through CMS."
"I have seen firsthand all that the league does for children in Charlotte," said Holley Tillman, a third-year member. "The league is a nonprofit organization with no management expenses since we are all volunteers. We don't even pay for meeting space, St. Gabriel Catholic Church provides us a free place for our monthly meetings."
Founded in 1911 by a group of young women at St. Peter's Episcopal Church to help local children in hospitals, the projects of the Charity League have changed over time but always have had the goal of assisting children in need, said Rorie. It has opened cafeterias in schools and a nursery school.
One current project is a "Moozie" robotic talking cow that teaches children character skills, positive attitudes and early childhood social skills. Last year Moozie "talked" to more than 3,000 children in Charlotte.
The Charity League also supplies basic needs for homeless children, including clothing and sleeping bags, toiletries and toys, books and games for the Harvest Center on Julia Avenue. It also helps children at Presbyterian Hemby Children's Hospital by providing a Kindermusik program for those undergoing treatment.
For older students, the Charity League offers a scholarship program. Founded in 2004, the Robert J. Alander scholarship offers grants to graduating CMS seniors who plan to continue their education in the field of marketing at an accredited college or university, and more than $150,000 has been awarded in scholarships.
While activities and programs may have changed over the years, "It's clear we were in it with the children for the long haul," says Rorie. "Every endeavor is motivated by the welfare of children."