The Transylvania Times -

By Bill Harrah
Sharing House Diary 

Supplies Needed As School Bells Begin To Ring – Brevard NC


The Great Recession and its laboring recovery have been bad news for most Americans, but some people have suffered more than others. Around these parts we call them "children."

North Carolina and a handful of other Southern states saw the biggest increases in the number of people living in "poverty areas" between 2000 and 2010, according to a recent Census Bureau report. These are places where more than 20 percent of the people live below the federal poverty line, which for a family of four is an annual income of $23,850.

Census Bureau statistics reveal that 2,700 Transylvanians lived in poverty in 2000. By 2012 (most recent data) 4,543 had attained that dubious distinction. An astounding 28 percent of all households here earn less than $25,000.

Poverty areas are typically marked by "higher crime rates, poor housing conditions, and fewer job opportunities," the report points out.

Thankfully, Transyl-vania's crime rate isn't a problem. What is a problem – a serious one – is the number of children here who depend on free and reduced-cost meals. Last year 2,100 local school students qualified for food assistance.

At a recent Transylvania Hunger Coalition meeting someone told a story about one child who said, "It wasn't my turn (to eat)."

In addition to free and reduced cost lunches in our county schools, another big program is Backpack Buddies, which each year aims to provide more than 3,000 food packs and 7,500 supplements and holiday break food bags each year to children of families in poverty. During the 2012-13 year, Backpack Buddies served an average of 260 children per week. Learn more about Transylvania Schools' hunger programs at

During the school year free breakfast is served each day to grades K-12 at the schools. Summertime free lunches are served at Anchor Baptist Church, Brevard Housing Authority, Brevard Middle School, Champion Park Pool, Franklin Park Pool, Rosman Baptist Tabernacle and Transylvania Parks & Recreation.

You can learn more about these programs and how you can help support them by emailing Carolyn Barton, Transylvania County Schools Director of Child Nutrition, at cgbarton@ Right now she's getting ready for the breakfast program in county schools.

At Sharing House we also see a lot of kids in need of school supplies. There are other groups working toward the same end, but we expect to provide backpacks stuffed with school supplies to around 600 children.

We need all kinds of supplies: backpacks, notebook paper, 3-ring binders, calculators, scissors, spiral notebooks, pencil boxes, wooden pencils and mechanical pencils. Cash donations are also welcome. We get deals from local stores to buy some school items.

Incidentally, used backpacks are in high demand because they tend to be sturdier and many new ones.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, more families than ever are coming to Sharing House. They tend to fall into four main categories:

• people who have lost their jobs and can't find a new one

• elderly and disabled people on fixed incomes that can't keep up with rising prices

• single moms who juggle child-rearing with part-time jobs

• working poor – those who have taken minimum wage jobs after losing living wage jobs in the banking recession.

Our part-time economy is pushing families into lines at DSS to apply for food stamps.

Working poor families are barely able to make ends meet in "good" weeks. When unlooked-for expenses pop up, we are likely to see them at Sharing House. All it takes to blow the budget is a new water pump for the car, a new pair of gym shoes or a surprise visit to the doctor.

Sharing House volunteers Lillie and Nyx Siniard helped stuff backpacks with school supplies for students of families in poverty. Donations of basic supplies and school clothing are welcome. (Photo by Megan Kimsey)

It's true that we're always asking for things. That's the business we're in, helping families. When squalls hit that could put them on the street, living in their cars, we're there with food, clothing and perhaps some financial assistance.

A week's worth of food, a backpack full of school supplies and some used school clothes are really appreciated by families in poverty.

Bring your donations any weekday to Sharing House, at the corner of Oakdale and Duckworth in Brevard. (Oakdale meets South Broad Street near the County Library at 4 Rent. We're two short blocks from there.)

Drive around our building to the second door, where we will happily help unload your donations of food, clothing and household items and give you a receipt for income tax purposes.

Thank you for helping us to feed our neighbors in need!

(Bill Harrah volunteers as PR Coordinator for Sharing House.)


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