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New app allows you to donate to CMS students in need

“To be honest we’re a large urban school district, so we experience the battle of trying to support kids in ways that are not necessarily academic,” said social worker Michele King.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is looking for your help launching a new app that will connect you to the children and families who need assistance in our communities. 

All you have to do is sign-up.

The free app is called Purposity. It works when school social workers identify and upload needs within the school district. 

For example, a first grader could be in need of a pair of shoes, while a third grader could use a winter coat.

The social worker would submit the request through the app. Users are notified of the need and can choose to buy the item with one simple click.

"Organizations will donate shoes, but they don't always have the one size you actually need for a certain student. Or we may just need a set of paints to encourage college and career readiness for a student who is interested in art,” said Katie Lindsay, a CMS social worker.

Officials said app users will receive one text a week with a curated list of student needs. Social workers, who know the students and their families best, will vet the requests. 

Each item on the list will include a brief message, based on basic information from the social worker, and the price, which may be as low as $10 and must be less than $250. 

The item is shipped to the social worker, who delivers it to the student, and 100 percent of donations go to student needs.

The Purposity app is already being used by school districts in cities such as Atlanta and Nashville, but in order for CMS to begin using it, they need a minimum of 500 registered users to activate accounts. On the first day of its launch, it had close to 100.

“To be honest, we’re a large urban school district, so we experience the battle of trying to support kids in ways that are not necessarily academic,” said Michele King, who has spent her 17-year career as a social worker within CMS.

“I’ve had kids that I’ve worked with whose shoes, the rubber is just flapping off the bottom of the shoe and their family can’t afford to buy them a new pair of shoes. Clothing, we know we have a lot of uniform schools, and some parents struggle to keep up with the uniforms because we know kids are fun and dirty and get out there and play, and sometimes the uniforms they get at the beginning of the year don’t last all year long,” she said.

King said this lack of basic needs has a major effect on a child’s ability to learn and socialize with their peers. But now, thanks to Purposity, King said members of the Charlotte community can fulfill requests made by school social workers and help local children not only with basic needs but also help them improve academically.

“From both a social perspective and an academic perspective, if a student doesn’t have to worry about that pair of pants or that pair of shoes he’s wearing that are falling apart then he can focus on what he needs to be focusing on at school. Hopefully, in the end, it will improve academics, as well as social experiences of our kids at school, which we know, are incredibly important.

“You also really get a better sense of the human you’re helping and it’s not just like making some donation somewhere that’s detached from the actual outcome," King said.

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