BY BRANDY TEMPLETON
The Statesville Family YMCA provided a true blessing on Saturday to dozens of local children and their families.
Around 20 children from the Boys & Girls Club of the Piedmont, 10 American Renaissance School students, and 40 participants in the YMCA’s Bridge Academy, which serves homeless students, were treated to breakfast, a back-to-school shopping trip to Walmart and lunch.
The YMCA recognizes the importance of a child’s cognitive, emotional and social development and aims to empower them. With 20 percent of North Carolina children living below the federal poverty level, school essentials can be challenging for some families to purchase. YMCA “Bright Beginnings” program provides them with backpacks, clothing, school supplies and a back-to-school shopping experience they may not have otherwise.
The children and parents were thankful for the help.
Single mom Sarah Murdock, said her 9-year-old son Derrick, who struggles with ADHS, has “been through a lot.” She said she’s doing her best, working two part-time jobs, but it’s not enough to cover all of the basics.
“I was going to take him school shopping, but I didn’t get paid,” she said. “This means a lot.”
Daisy Link brought her two sons, Samuel, 12, and Jaxon, 9. The pair needed new school clothes, but the family is struggling.
Link said her husband is in stage 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), so the YMCA’s assistance is impactful..
“It’s a big blessing,” she said.
Stacey Meese said she just doesn’t have enough money to shop for all of her kids and is grateful that the YMCA stepped in to help with the oldest two.
“There’s really no way I could shop for all of them doing it by myself,” she said.
Meese explained her situation.
“One dad is a dead beat, one is dead, and the other one’s in prison,” she said. “With the YMCA taking care of the oldest two, it frees me up to take care of the other ones. I can’t say how much this truly helps.”
YMCA Executive Director Blake Blakley said the nonprofit greatly appreciates the community partners who help with the outreach effort, which is now in its 10th year.
Each year the YMCA works with staff at elementary schools in Statesville to identify students who are most in need. The Y collects backpacks and supplies before taking students shopping for clothes with community volunteers who purchase items using a gift card provided by the YMCA.
“Back-to-school season should be an exciting time for all students regardless of their circumstances,” Blakley explained. “Feeling confident before starting a new school year is crucial for a child and by giving them the tools they need we help set them up for success.”
Thrive Church members volunteered to cook pancakes and sausage for breakfast.
Mack Murray and his wife Kristi were two of the volunteers.
“The YMCA asked if we could take it on, and we talked about it at our board meeting,” Mack said. “They provided the food and we prepared it.”
After breakfast, students were loaded onto buses for Walmart shopping where they chose clothes, shoes, and school supplies. Then it was back to the Y for lunch.
Want to Help?
To support a child monetarily a donation of $140, or any other amount can be submitted in person or online at ymcanwnc.org/give.