United Fund of Surry Executive Director Beth Pequeno reports an annual school supplies drive through Walmart in Mount Airy has amassed “a pickup truck full” of items to benefit needy city and county students.
She explained this is the second year for the effort, which is a partnership between Walmart, United Fund and United Way USA. Pequeno said United Was serves as the liaison between Walmart’s corporate office with the United Fund helping get supplies where they are needed locally following the collections.
“I think we had more donations than the previous year,” said Store Manager Wayne Mosley. “I feel a big part of this is our cashiers whose hard work makes it a success. The economy has also had an impact. There are still a lot of people out there looking for a job. Mount Airy always comes through. It is a very generous community.”
He said it’s gratifying that grants from the corporate level can be used to buy supplies every year so the local store can give back to the community and said it is exciting to get to help local individuals and organizations.
“I really felt this year it went smoother,” said Pequeno. “We had a better idea of what’s going on and what we needed to do.” She praised the efforts of Mount Airy City Schools, who provided a school bus on August 2 to draw attention to the drive and also helped pick up and divide the donations. Pequeno said this year’s campaign started July 28 and ran until Aug. 24.
She said the majority of the items will go to county students, with city schools also benefiting. She said supplies will also go to fill requests from some of the 26 agencies supported by United Fund.
“We sort all of the donations with high school volunteers,” Pequeno said. “Little kids’ supplies will go to elementary schools with items like notebooks going to the upper grades. The donations were bagged at the registers with a receipt attached. What impressed me is that the majority were under $5 but so many gave it added up. It makes an impact.” She said a number of three-ring binder notebooks were donated by Surry Bank.
Pequeno said United Fund also pays for Surry County’s 211 system, which lightens the 911 system caseload. She said persons seeking assistance in situations such as paying utility bills or arranging for meals to be provided to an elderly person in need can call 211 and they will be directed to agencies for help.
“This is a fantastic service with more than 1,000 individual listing and around 35 nonprofits which are all interconnected,” said Pequeno. “Our board felt strongly that Surry County would benefit from this service. We started this in 2010 during the plant closings.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-415-4739 or on Twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.