If there is one silver lining to challenging circumstances, it’s that they have a way of revealing the true character of a person. And in the same way, we have seen over and over how the hardships brought on by COVID-19 have revealed just how much the city of High Point takes care of its own.
Even on the days when it seems like there isn’t much left to give or the resources aren’t available, High Point citizens and organizations have taken it upon themselves to make sure needs are met. Take for example when the High Point Public Library wondered how they were going to afford to give away backpacks and school supplies at their annual Summer Jubilee.
The Summer Jubilee is an event hosted by the library, the City’s Human Relations Division, and the local nonprofit Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC). Previously, the event has included a number of performers and educational opportunities. The school supplies giveaway was just one small portion of a much larger festival that included crafts, musicians, interpreters for non-native English speakers, library tours, and a variety of other entertainment activities.
While the library soon realized this event couldn’t happen as originally planned given the current health crisis, they made the executive decision to maintain one crucial element.
“We recognized that even as we needed to cancel all the other activities, the backpack giveaway would be perhaps even more important because so many people now face economic uncertainty,” says Rase McCray, a librarian at High Point Public Library in Reader Services.
So the library decided to move forward with the backpack giveaway as planned, until COVID-19 threatened the funding for the event.
“Our initial funding plan for this year’s event fell through,” Rase explains, “so the library leadership stepped up to pay for the backpacks out of my division’s budget.”
However, during the process of trying to implement this stop-gap budgetary solution, the library was met with an outpouring of city support.
“While we were still in funding limbo, a number of other city divisions also agreed to provide supplies to make sure the event would go on no matter what,” Race explains, “and they’ve kept their commitments.”
The backpacks in the giveaway are traditionally filled with materials for any school-age child in the city of High Point who needs additional school supplies. Now, thanks to the pooled budgets of several city divisions, the backpacks are care packages from the city of High Point to local students and families.
The City’s Stormwater Division provided 300 pencils and black pens. The City’s Recycling Division provided 300 pencils. The City’s Keep High Point Beautiful team is providing 300 packs of colored markers. The NC Department of Health and Human Services is providing Sesame Street activity books. Novant Health is providing 400 masks. Cover the City Project is providing stuffed animals, and the City’s Human Relations Division is providing PPE for all our volunteers and staff.
The abundance of donations means that High Point Public Library is back on track to distribute the backpacks to any school-aged child in the city who may need the supplies for the upcoming school year.
“We won’t ask for any documentation of need,” Rase says. “The Library and BASIC have always been about helping anyone who says they need help, no matter who they are or what background they come from. Right now, every single child needs help as they face the unexpected task of learning as much as possible outside of the classroom. We hope these backpacks make that learning a little easier, especially for anyone whose financial situations make it difficult to purchase school supplies for at-home learning.”
If you or someone you know has school-aged children in need of school supplies, head to the library this Saturday, July 25. The backpacks will be available for pick up starting at 10:30am on a first-come, first-serve basis. For safety reasons, this will be a drive through event, held in the parking lot across from the library on N. Elm Street. Recipients can enter the parking lot from Lindsay Street, drive past the backpack tent to receive their backpack without getting out of their car and exit onto N. Elm Street. HPB Insurance Group, who owns the parking lot, offered the use of their lot for the Summer Jubilee giveaway.
“Economic uncertainty, like food insecurity, is invisible,” Race adds. “You never know who may need something like this to make sure their kids have the supplies they need for a good education.”
Want to do more to help? The most important thing to do is to share this information so everyone can know that the backpacks are available. The High Point Public Library has asked everyone to share the Facebook link (https://www.facebook.com/events/3488302094527105/) to spread the word.
Our job as a community is to support one another every day, especially in the midst of a crisis. Help can come from anywhere, from local city divisions to one easy share on Facebook. And it’s our hope that even seemingly small actions can demonstrate just how big High Point’s heart is to support all of our citizens.
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