United Way of Henderson County (UWHC) is seeking support from across the community for the fifth annual Day of Action, taking place virtually across the county to help Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) students and staff get back to in-person learning safely. United Way is spearheading an effort to fund and assemble 13,000 Back to School hygiene kits in preparation for the start of in-person learning. Each kit will include hand sanitizer, masks, and helpful handouts about how students and their families can stay safe while at school or at home.
Day of Action, sponsored by Pardee UNC Health Care, and in partnership with HCPS, is traditionally a county-wide morning of service to help our local schools get ready for the upcoming school year. Last year, more than 500 volunteers came together on 22 campuses to complete service projects. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Day of Action has shifted to just one project that allows for safe and socially-distanced volunteering by the community, in support of all HCPS students.
“A safe return to school, even in a hybrid remote and in-person model, will help ensure our students can continue their learning, receive needed nutrition, increase access to behavioral health services, and re-engage with their peers in a positive setting,” says Dr. John Bryant, HCPS Associate superintendent for administrative aervices and incoming superintendent. “We know that many of our families have been experiencing increased challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources like these Back to School Kits will be critical tools in preparing students for a healthy return to campus, while reducing risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
Volunteers are needed to help assemble sets of 100 kits, and the community is asked to donate funds for the purchase of materials in each kit. Individuals and organizations can sponsor one kit for $5, an entire classroom for $125, or any amount they choose. Pardee UNC Health Care is continuing its support as the lead sponsor for this annual event, and Pisgah Health Foundation has awarded a grant that will be put toward the total cost of supplies.
Individual bottles of hand sanitizer for the 13,000 kits will be donated by local herbal products manufacturer Gaia Herbs. Sets of reusable cloth masks to fit middle and high schoolers were acquired through FEMA’s free mask distribution. Smaller sized masks for elementary students, as well as bags and print materials, will be purchased with money raised through the Day of Action mobile site.