The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is to KEEP SPREADING IT throughout the year!

I know, I know…this is a little different from that iconic Elf quote we all know and love. Though I do love singing loud for all to hear (mostly in the shower or in my car) and I do agree that it’s a great way to spread cheer. I think there’s an even better way we can do that in 2020: giving back to our students, teachers, and school staff personnel!

Rowan County is extremely lucky to have so many small nonprofits and businesses that POUR love and support into our schools such as Rowan Partners for Education, Communities in Schools, Rowan Literacy Council, YSUP Rowan, Youth Services Bureau, Smart Start Rowan, Crosby Scholars, and Food for Thought. These all serve Rowan County school students throughout the year in different capacities. Often times, these agencies get lots of love and support in July or August at the start of the new school year, but tend to be forgotten the other ten months of the year. It’s not that we do it on purpose; it’s probably just that you don’t know how to get involved!

Rowan Partners for Education

Rowan Partners for Education is a group of dedicated business and community leaders who mobilize the community to support Rowan-Salisbury Schools. They provide support in three ways: by sharing the Renewal story, building partnerships, and finding and developing resources. In the past, they have provided mini-grants to numerous teachers and given a generous award each year to the Teacher of the Year. They have also sponsored a yearly “Love Your Teacher” event that honors awesome teachers in our school system.

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Join them for two fundraising events this year: their annual golf tournament every September at the Warrior Golf Club and a breakfast fundraising event in May.

Like them on Facebook and visit Partners4Education.org for more information.

 

Communities In Schools of Rowan County

Communities In Schools of Rowan County (CIS Rowan) serves eight schools in Rowan-Salisbury: Hanford Dole Elementary, Hurley Elementary, Isenberg Elementary, Koontz Elementary, Overton Elementary, Knox Middle, North Rowan Middle, and Henderson Independent High School. Dr. Ron Turbyfill, a retired educator and now the Executive Director of CIS Rowan, says their mission is “to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and succeed in life.” CIS Rowan works with students to improve their attendance, behavior, and classwork, and also work to help parents engage with their child’s school and assist with their education. CIS Rowan employs a staff of nine Student Support Specialists who work with students and provide student supports during the school day. These supports may be delivered by the CIS Student Support Specialists or by volunteer tutors or mentors.

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Be a community volunteer! Community volunteers are trained and vetted by CIS Rowan. The CIS Student Support Specialists match community volunteers with students who need assistance with their reading or other academics.
  • Do you work with a business or church that is always looking to do outreach? CIS Rowan works in partnership with many community agencies, including Rowan County Literacy Council, Central Carolinas Council of the Boy Scouts, and Food for Thought. They can always use more support! 
  • Drop off new clothing and school supplies at your local school or at CIS Rowan’s main office located at 204 East Innes Street in downtown Salisbury!

David Preslar and John McMillan load bags for Granite Quarry Elementary.

 

Rowan County Literacy Council

Rowan County Literacy Council provides literacy instruction to individuals regardless of means or ability to pay in order to improve the quality of life for individuals and to advocate for literacy awareness. They provide services for adults whose native language is not English as well as tutoring and small classes to adults ages 16 and older.

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Advocate for literacy in Rowan County!
  • Read to the children in your life EVERY day!
  • Support them financially.
  • Become a tutor! Visit their website at rcliteracy.org for more details!

 

Youth Substance Use Prevention Rowan 

YSUP Rowan (pronounced wise-up) is a Youth Substance Use Prevention non-profit organization that does just what it sounds like – works to prevent youth substance use! A federally funded organization through a Drug Free Communities grant, they are a coalition made up of 12 different sectors of the community: youth, youth serving organizations, government, civic and volunteer organizations, parents, healthcare, youth substance use organizations, media, schools, businesses, law enforcement, and faith-based and religious organizations. These all work together to develop successful youth substance use prevention campaigns.

One of the biggest components of their coalition is their Youth Council. It is made up of middle and high school students from Rowan Salisbury Schools. They meet once or twice a month on Thursday evenings to explore substance use and develop student-led prevention methods. This year, the Youth Council has been involved in a medication take-back for Meals on Wheels recipients as well as a Rowan-Salisbury Schools anti-vaping campaign. They developed anti-vaping memes that were coupled with educational information about the harms of vaping and distributed to middle and high school students throughout the county.

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Encourage your young people to join the Youth Council! Lauren Alexander-Persse, the Project Director, says, “It is important for youth to lead the substance use prevention efforts as youth tend to listen to youth better than they do adults! Young people also have more creative ideas for reaching other young people.”

All the numerous bags packed for Rowan Helping Ministries’ Food For Thought.

 

Youth Services Bureau

Youth Services Bureau is an organization that helps young people face and conquer the challenges they face today. Their programs vary based on each kids’ situation and needs, but they offer things such as mentoring programs, after school activities, and counseling groups.

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Local Business Support- Consider job-shadowing programs! Bringing young people into an office environment gives them great exposure to a world of opportunity.
  • Support the Rowan County United Way financially, who provides operating funds for the mentoring program
  • Be a local mentor!!
  • Do you shop at Food Lion? Link your MVP card to their agency and then shop at Food Lion!
  • Volunteer for the Teen Court program. Visit their website- rowanysb.com– for more info!

 

Smart Start Rowan

Smart Start Rowan is a local nonprofit whose vision for Rowan County is that every child will receive the education, nurturing, and support needed to provide the foundation for them to grow to healthy, productive students. They do this by building community wide awareness of the importance of quality early learning experiences, promoting the activities and services provided by Smart Start Rowan and its community partners, identifying the needs of young children and their families and educating the community about them, and providing services without bias to race, color, religion, age, nationality, gender, marital status, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation.

Sarah Paynter, the Outreach and Development Specialist, says, “By supporting Smart Start Rowan, you make life better for the children and their families of Rowan County. This support helps secure stable, nurturing environments for well deserving individuals and families.”

One of the many benefits of Smart Start Rowan – smiling children!

 

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Support Smart Start financially!
  • Spread the word of their mission!
  • Volunteer with them!
  • Attend one of the events they hold throughout the year that benefit the young people of Rowan County and their families! Be on the lookout for more information throughout the year!
    1. Champion for Young Children – April
    2. Week of the Young Child –April
    3. Fall Festival – September
    4. Christmas Bureau – October (in partnership with Rowan County United Way and the Salvation Army)
    5. Breakfast with Santa- December
    6. Angel Tree -December

One more shameless plug for Smart Start: They will soon be opening the application process for the NC Pre-K program (free Pre-K education for eligible 4 year olds), so watch for that!

Members of Smart Start Rowan showing kids how to work a new toy.

 

Crosby Scholars 

Crosby Scholars is a unique college access program for students in grades 6-12 enrolled in the Rowan County School system. The program prepares students academically, financially, and personally for successful college enrollment by offering enrichment workshops and advisory services.  If in the program as a senior in high school, Crosby Scholars receive one-on-one assistance with the college admission and financial aid process from a senior advisor.

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Spread the word about Crosby Scholars and encourage the young people in your life to join!
  • Become a Senior Advisor! If you have a passion for helping young people find their path, have some familiarity with college access/financial aid, and have availability to meet with a student(s) periodically throughout the year, contact seniors@crosbyscholarsrowan.org!

Crosby Scholars.

 

Rowan Helping Ministries’ Food For Thought 

Food For Thought is in its 11th year serving food-insecure children in Rowan County. They provide children with nutritious, ready-to-eat meal options on the weekends. On an average week, food bags weigh about 3.5 lbs! In its first year of operation, 10 children were served. Last year, they concluded the school year serving 1,013 children in 26 schools and have already surpassed their goal of 1,100 students for this year (in 28 schools!) It is one of Rowan Helping Ministries’ major food programs and has expanded their ability to address hunger, specifically as it effects children. A collaborative community effort, Food For Thought needs hundreds of volunteers and donors to thrive!

Ways you can help/donate/volunteer:

  • Weekly Packing Parties: Encourage groups to volunteer 1-2 hours to pack Food for Thought bags.  
  • Volunteer as a Driver or Distributor (Thursdays)- Contact Monica Seamon (mseamon@rowanhelpingministries.org)
  • Donate financially! $6 feeds a child for a week, $25 feeds a child for a month, and $252 feeds a child for one whole year!

Rowan Helping Ministries’ helpers packing bags for Food For Thought.

 

As the new year rolls in, please consider giving your time or financial donations to some of these extremely worthy causes! Also, don’t forget about your neighborhood/community schools. You can simply reach out to the principal of the school; they always know specific needs. Remember, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is GIVING BACK throughout the year!