By Ammie Ruddle
One memorable conversation sparked an individual to organize a donation drive for students and staff members with Pendleton County Schools.
For the first time since 2019, the box truck pulled into the Franklin Elementary School parking lot.
The school’s staff and members of the Pendleton County Board of Education stood on the parking lot prepared to unload the truck’s contents. In the building, staff members designated space for each item. Kimberlee Hevener, Franklin Elementary School’s assistant principal/academic coach, said everyone was using their “best guess” regarding the items on the truck.
The mission to provide school supplies to county students began nearly two decades ago when Vicki Johnson, who works for a federal agency outside of Washington, DC, stopped at a gas station in Franklin and spoke to a girl. Johnson recalled the girl was “polite and kind” to her.
Johnson asked the girl where she learned her manners and the girl replied “school.”
The interaction had such an impact on Johnson that when she returned home, it prompted her to begin to collect school supplies for students in Pendleton County. Johnson has no connection to Pendleton County except for a chance encounter with a child at a gas station.
“We started with a pick-up truck, then a van and now a box truck full of pallets of supplies,” Johnson said. “Everything is completely 100% donated, including the gas.”
However, this year, Johnson said, they ran into a snag. Donors are no longer allowed to make monetary donations. “Many of the donors prefer to donate money, and we would use that to purchase more school supplies,” Johnson added. “Due to this snag we did not get the amount of donations we normally do.”
Johnson said they hope to put together Amazon wish lists to send to donors who prefer to make a monetary donation for next year.
Items on the truck included binders, notebooks, paper, pens, backpacks, lunch boxes, markers, science kits, balls and much more.
The library at FES was stocked with the donated supplies. They will be distributed to the other three schools – Brandywine and North Fork Elementary and Pendleton County Middle/High School when needed by students.