By Curt Yeomans
With the beginning of the 2009-10 school year around the corner, a few local businesses are starting to collect school supplies to donate to Clayton County Public Schools for use by the district's 48,000 students.
The school system is partnering with local businesses on two drives to gather supplies, like pens, pencils, notepads and folders, for the county's students and its teachers. The drives are aimed at making sure pupils and educators have some of the basic supplies needed on a day-to-day basis.
Students in Clayton County schools will return to class on Aug. 10.
School system Community Liaison Rhonda Burnough said schools actually feel the impact of the back-to-school supply drives at the mid-point in the school year, when students who stocked up on supplies early begin to run low.
"It's not so much at the beginning of the school year," Burnough said. "In January, children need extra school supplies because they are starting to run out by the time the Christmas break comes around. Also, these supplies help when a new student comes to the school during the school year."
On the student end of school-supply collection efforts, the seven Chick-fil-A and Truett's Grill locations in Clayton County will have school-supply donation boxes set up in their stores from July 20 to Aug. 6, so customers can drop off supplies that will be sent to the county's 60 schools.
This is the third year Chick-fil-A and Truett's Grill locations have collected school supplies for the county's students, said Randy Burgess, the general manager of the Truett's Grill in Morrow.
Burgess said people who donate a pack of wide-ruled notebook paper, 16-count crayon packs, packs of No. 2 pencils, or 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch spiral-bound notebooks will receive a coupon for a free Chick-fil-A sandwich. There is a limit of three coupons per person, he said.
"We've been doing this because we want to support this community," said Burgess, who is also a graduate of Lovejoy High School.
Tracy Fleming, owner of the Chick-fil-A location in Lovejoy, said the goal is to fill at least 50 boxes with donated school supplies. The donation boxes are about two feet tall and three feet wide.
Fleming said the "wall of Chick-fil-A boxes" will be presented to Burnough and school system Superintendent Edmond Heatley on Aug. 8, at a "Back to School Rally" to be held on the lawn of the Clayton County historical courthouse, located at 121 South McDonough Street in Jonesboro.
"There's been so much negative stuff said about this county lately, and we wanted to do something that is positive for the community," Fleming said. "So, we just decided if we're going to do this, let's do it right. Let's do it big."
While the local Chick-fil-A locations are collecting supplies for the students, local BB&T branches are planning to purchase some supplies to help out the county's teachers.
Ashley Harris, the assistant vice president and financial center leader for the BB&T branch located at 1860 Mt. Zion Road in Morrow, is spearheading the project, which she called a "wish list for teachers." Harris said the local branches will use some money from their budgets, in an amount which she said has not yet been determined, to purchase supplies like copy-machine paper and pens and pencils for teachers.
Her goal is to make sure every teacher at every school gets at least a few supplies from the local bank branches.
"A lot of time, they go under-appreciated," Harris said. "We have some great teachers in our school system. With all of the negative stuff that went on last year, they got grouped in with that negativity, but our teachers really do a great job."
Anyone who would like to donate school supplies for Clayton County students can go to:
· Truett's Grill at 2042 Mt. Zion Road, in Morrow.
· The Forest Park Chick-fil-A Dwarf House at 4959 Jonesboro Road.
· The Jonesboro Chick-fil-A Dwarf House at 7348 Tara Blvd.
· The Riverdale Chick-fil-A Dwarf House at 6549 Ga. Highway 85.
· The Stockbridge Chick-fil-A Dwarf House at 3649 Ga. Highway 138.
· The Chick-fil-A at 11161 Tara Blvd., Lovejoy.
· The Chick-fil-A at Southlake Mall in Morrow.