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Knox County PTAs host luncheon, fund-raiser

More than 30 large, brightly colored gift baskets filled with goodies and items of all kinds covered three tables, ready to be auctioned off at the Knox County Council Parent Teacher Association’s “Snowflakes and Packages” holiday luncheon and gift basket auction, held Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Approximately 75 people attended, including KCC PTA members, teachers, school officials and community leaders. The donated baskets and other items, including a hot air balloon ride, were auctioned off to the highest bidder, said Anne Haston, second vice president for programs. “Money earned from this event benefits the Teacher Supply Depot, the Knox County Clothing Center and the KCC PTA Scholarship fund,” she said.

“We raised about thirty-one hundred dollars,” said Karen Davis, president of the KCC PTA. “It’s a bit better than last year, and we are pleased with not only the amount raised but also the turnout for the event.”

The Teacher Supply Depot was established as a joint venture between Knox County schools and the KCC PTA three years ago to provide free classroom supplies to any teacher in the county. Lucy Spurgeon, director of the depot, said, “our motto is — we don’t throw away anything that could be used in the school system.”

Types of items needed include paper supplies, arts and crafts, equipment and basic supplies, but more unusual items are also accepted. “We’ve had companies donate carpet samples, cases and cases of small boxes made for surgical instruments, plastic trays — the teachers have found all kinds of innovative uses for the items,” Spurgeon said. “We even received a fifty-gallon drum of glue. Some PTA volunteers and I got a pump and put all of it into plastic coke bottles. I had it all over, even in my hair.”

Wendy Goodrich, a fifth-grade teacher at Farragut Intermediate School, said, “The depot is fabulous. It’s great for supplies, one-of-a-kind items, books that other teachers have gotten rid of, whatever you can carry, and it’s free. I’ve gotten things I really needed, like art supplies, staplers, tape dispensers, crayons and markers.”

“The community has been wonderfully supportive; one company donated five thousand dollars to buy supplies,” Spurgeon said. “We have more than one humdred companies that donate items, as well as PTAs and individuals, but the number of teachers coming to the depot keeps growing, including new teachers that have absolutely no supplies.” She quoted a survey from the National Education Association and the National PTA stating the national average a teache spends out of his own pocket for supplies is $500 a year.

According to a KCC PTA survey, 105 teachers from Farragut Primary, Intermediate, Middle and High Schools received supplies from 2001 to 2004 at an estimated value of $15,200.

The Teacher Supply Depot, located at 232 Churchwell Avenue in Knoxville, is open to teachers four times a year. Saturday, Jan. 22, is the next open date. For more information, contact Lucy Spurgeon at 384-8857; or to donate items, call the depot at 594-1221.

The Knox County Clothing Center, also a joint venture between Knox County schools and the KCC PTA, opened in 1936 and became a United Way agency in 1986. It provides clothing for more than 2,000 students and distributes more than 50,000 articles of clothing per year. Cindy Britton, director of the center, said, “This year the demand is even higher. We’ve already served more than eleven hundred kids this year from August to November.”

The KCC PTA holds clothing drives twice a year for good, used clothing. “At the center, we give each child a certain amount of new clothing, then supplement with the used clothes. The families and students get to shop for what they like,” Britton said. “You can’t tell they’ve been to the clothing center, and it really increases their self esteem. Some kids won’t come to school if they don’t have clean clothes.”

Families must go through the school for a referral to the center. Judy Claxton, social worker for the Farragut schools, said, “I often get referrals from the teachers, and the parents aren’t aware of the program. I explain it to them — they can make an appointment and can go twice a year. It’s a wonderful help for a lot of parents.”

The KCC PTA survey showed that 24 students from the four Farragut schools benefited from the center during the 2003-04 school year.

The clothing center is located at 1000 N. Central Ave. To make a donation or for more information, call the center at 594-3791.

Danielle Steele, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee who spoke at the luncheon, was one of several high school senior student recipients chosen for the Alice B. Deeds Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2003. She said, “The five hundred dollar scholarship paid for all my books the first semester of my freshman year. It was great for my family, because we didn’t have to worry about it.”

Davis said, “Any senior high school student in the Knox County schools who demonstrates academic excellence and financial need is eligible for a college scholarship, regardless of whether a PTA exists at that school. The number of scholarships we give per year depends on the amount of donations we receive,” Haston said. “Last year we provided five hundred dollar scholarships to seven out of fiftyhigh school applicants.”

Applications from high school guidance counselors will be available in January, and the application deadline is Saturday, Feb. 12. For more information, contact Pat Davenport at 933-2498.


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