Guest columnist: C2C project offers great example of positive support for youth

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 05:52 PM

I recently relocated my family from New Jersey to North Carolina. This move not only brought us nearer to our larger family, it also afforded me the opportunity to take a break. During my sabbatical, which my wife assures me is coming to an end, I taught an after-school session at Chewning Middle School. Our project was to build a chicken coop. Having just left a career in resource development, I was excited to get my hands dirty. For an hour every Tuesday and Thursday, our team of dreamers, designers, painters, and builders employed everything from a speed square to MS Excel in an effort to bring our project to life. We called the project “Bird Brains.” We budgeted. We designed. We sourced the project. We measured twice, cut once. We painted – the coop and each other. We finished. We got our chickens.

The organization running the afterschool program, I have come to learn, is a well-known local outfit known as C2C or Crayons to Calculators. Executive Director Amy Cummings, an educator and child advocate, believes that every child deserves a first-class education. In Durham, 23 of the 30 public schools have more than 50 percent of its enrollment qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Many of these school children live in households where resources are so tight that the necessary school supplies are simply unaffordable. The financial burden is often transferred to well-intentioned and compassionate teachers. If it were not for these teachers, many students would have no class supplies.

To address this need, C2C operates a school supply warehouse where teachers can “shop” for school supplies for their students. Thanks to contributions from corporations, individuals who donate and run supply drives, as well as foundations grants, these supplies are free to the teachers. The demand is, however, unfortunately high. There is simply not enough.

C2C not only provides students with critical school supplies, but also runs after-school programs like the one in which I was involved.

As a volunteer with C2C, I am writing to explain my personal experience with the organization, its leadership, and most importantly the children it serves. Like Cummings, I believe that every child deserves a quality education. No child’s future success should be limited by the lack of pens, notebooks, crayons, or calculators. Because of C2C, I was able to contribute something positive to my new community: to its children, its future.

This holiday season, I encourage you to join me in supporting this organization by making a donation, signing up to volunteer, or organizing a supply drive through your business, house of worship, or children’s school. And, if you are interested – the “Bird Brains” chicken coop is for sale for $500. It is perfect for backyards, it is portable, handmade by eighth graders, and it will be delivered to your home. All proceeds will go to support C2C afterschool programs. Contact director@crayons2calculators.org for more information.

Keeva Kase is self employed and lives in Morrisville.