N.C. National Guard Partners with Community to Support "School Tools" Published Aug. 5, 2010 By Master Sgt. Keith Dennis 145 AW/PA Charlotte, NC -- As schools in the Mecklenburg and its surrounding counties ready to open for the coming fall semester, once again, the guard joins with WSOC-TV, Communities in Schools, and Classroom Central to collect school supply donations for needy students. "This is our fourteenth year of helping to provide logistics for this worthwhile effort," says Senior Master Sgt. Rick Hergenreter, who is part of the Guard' s Drug Demand and Reduction Taskforce. "Last year over 40,000 young people benefited from our efforts." The need is great. In Mecklenburg County alone, more than half of all students are economically disadvantaged, so many of these early learners will show up on the first day of school empty handed. Worse still, with the present overall state of the economy, charitable giving has declined significantly. Indeed, in Mecklenburg County, the 2009 School Tools campaign saw a 23 percent decrease in the amount of donations received over the previous year but the number of schools needing support increased by 24 percent. The guard's role is to provide trucks and workers to transport the donated school supplies from collection sites scattered throughout the region to a non-profit agency called "Classroom Central". From this warehouse, the free supplies are distributed to schools and teachers requesting them. This year some of the most needed items include: pens, pencils colored pencils, markers, highlighters and erasers. Donations can be dropped off at area BB&T branches and at Charlotte Area Subaru dealers. Of course contributions can also be brought to the Classroom Central at 2116 Wilkinson Blvd, Charlotte NC. www.classroomcentral.org. The campaign continues through the end of August.