Even as the Sampson High School Alumni Association tries to renovate its own historic building, its mission as a public service agency continues with a school supplies giveaway set for this Saturday just the latest iteration of the association’s community outreach.
The supplies, which are expected to benefit 250 local children, come from Sampson High School alumni up and down the East Coast, as well as through local donations.
“We are planning to distribute free back-to-school supplies to needy students on Saturday, Aug. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Joann McCalop, member of the Sampson High School Alumni Association and chairwoman of its Social and Community Service Committee, stated.
The primary purpose of the Alumni Association, founded and chartered in 1973, is to provide scholarships to needy and deserving students seeking a post-secondary education, as well as provide other public services in the community, McCalop noted.
The school supplies distribution, which has become an annual endeavor, will take place at the Sampson Center at 808 Barden St., Clinton. The efforts to collect school supplies for local schools is a piece of Alumni Association’s “rich tradition of giving back,” with other initiatives including college tours and partnering with local schools to provide helpful college preparation information and host health and fitness programs.
“One thing we do is give supplies to the students and in addition we give supplies directly to the school. We have actually given supplies to Kerr School for the past five years. Last year, for the first time, we had backpacks loaded with supplies that we gave to the kids.”
Last year, 230 children were served — and that was done despite torrential rains. McCalop and others are anticipating at least that many this Saturday. And there will be plenty of supplies to go around.
On top of donations from Sampson High School alumni, PNC Bank in Clinton has pledged supplies, and a bus parked at Wal-Mart on July 26 saw a great deal of local donors. “They were very generous with school supplies and monetary donations,” McCalop remarked.
In all, McCalop has a budget of $1,300 through which her committee does the school supplies drive and funds a partnership with Sampson Middle School through which college tours are offered each spring. That budget has been supplemented by donations totaling $1,000 as well as numerous school supplies.
The Alumni Association chapter in Baltimore held a crab feast fundraiser and anyone attending the feast was invited to bring a few pencils, pens, notebooks and the like. Despite being small in size, a pile of supplies and 50 backpacks were donated. All those supplies are now being amassed and sorted — and additional supplies purchased to fill up backpacks — in preparation for Saturday’s event.
“The goal of the program is to help needy parents and students with new back-to-school supplies,” McCalop said. “Our members are very generous, not only here in Clinton, but we had our reunion this past weekend and chapter members brought supplies. Those supplies are coming from New Jersey, Connecticut … everywhere.”
Even as the community outreach continues, Sampson High School Alumni Association is spreading the word about another big project that involves the vacant school building itself,
It was recently announced that the old Sampson High School campus on McKoy Street would be at the heart of a renovation endeavor by the group that seeks to preserve the school while re-purposing it into a community resource center.
The community’s assistance is needed to bring the ambitious project to fruition, Nettie Wilson Pernell, co-chair of the Sampson High School Alumni Association’s Phase II Community Action Sub-Committee, told City Council members in June.
As part of that first phase, Phase I, one of the old school buildings was purchased and renovated in 1999 into eight apartment complexes, providing housing to those who needed it.
Phase II, the process of converting the old school into a community resource center, has now begun, with asbestos and lead paint tests completed and the hazards subsequently removed from the cafeteria area, Pernell noted. Additionally, some needed roofing work (replacing shingles) has been done.
In addition to reference books and computers, the goal is to give a nod to the building’s past.
“(We want to have) a historical library that houses books, articles and artifacts of the school and its rich history, perhaps forming a cooperative with Sampson Community College for satellite classes or continuing education classes,” she said.
Plans to use the cafeteria to create revenue to complete the renovations has been floated. Right now, it’s about raising the needed funds, which takes community awareness of the project itself, Pernell said.
“We realize it will take a lot of money to renovate the entire campus, but we are steadfast in accomplishing our goals,” she has said. “Rome was not built in a day, and neither will the renovations for the transformation of the school be completed overnight.”
An engineer is already employed in conjunction with the second phase of the project.
“They’ve done some work in there,” said Pernell, who did not give a timeline but said raising funds was a continuing effort.
She said Alumni Association members are hoping to raise money — and community awareness — through T-shirt sales.
“We have T-shirts that we are selling now to get information out and put that Phase II part in people’s minds,” said Pernell.
The shirts read in part: “Yesterday, a place for learning … today, a vacant school … tomorrow, a community resource center. Come and join us in the vision. We need you.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-249-4616. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.