Hundreds of volunteers gathered at 42 schools Aug.17 as part of All In For the Kids, a partnership between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and United Way's Hands On Charlotte. It was the first day in a two-day program to help schools get ready to open Aug. 27.
At Hidden Valley Elementary, 25 volunteers worked to revamp a courtyard so that it could become an outdoor classroom – a project that Principal Michael Lungarini said would expand learning for students.
"They are donating their time and talent," Lungarini said. "When we get our community involved, it helps our students."
Among the volunteers at Hidden Valley were Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and Bo Hussey, the chief marketing and technology officer for the United Way of Central Carolinas. Both were enthusiastic about the work.
"We need to volunteer where the needs are – get involved and make a difference," Hussey said.
Lyles said the day's work was the beginning of a long-term partnership for the school.
"What we are doing today is talking about being all in for kids," she said. "We want to make the first day special but create a partnership that goes all year long."
Lyles, Hussey and the other volunteers at Hidden Valley were among hundreds of people from area businesses who took part in All In For the Kids. The volunteers provided a wide range of support to get schools ready that included helping teachers set up classrooms and landscape work to beautify school grounds.
The help was welcomed by the staff at Hidden Valley and other schools.
"I'm so excited for them to come in our school to help out," Lungarini said. "I will be recruiting them for later. This is a wonderful partnership."
At Renaissance West, 25 volunteers unpacked books to distribute by grade level and worked with individual teachers to get classrooms ready for students.
"This is so much fun. We love being here helping," said Joanne Pabst, who works at Atrium Health.
Principal Erin Barksdale was excited to have people working in the classrooms while teachers attended a mandatory back-to-school meeting. The meeting is especially important for the 30 new staff members who are joining Renaissance as it adds a sixth grade.
"As a community school, the support and love from the community builds and informs what we are doing here," Barksdale said. "When the community comes inside, it makes our partnership stronger."