Homeroom bells are ringing, new sneakers are being sported, and yellow buses are on the move.
Back to school is a fun and exciting time, but for some families it can also be challenging. The National Retail Federation predicts that K-12 back-to-school spending will increase to a record high this year, with an average family spending close to $900. With the many other inflationary price increases for goods and services, this can be a real burden for many in our community.
Regions Bank associates are pitching in to help ease this financial pressure for families and ensure students and teachers across the bank’s footprint are equipped and ready for a fresh start to the new school year.
Here are a few highlights:
Regions associates worked with the United Way of Greater Nashville on their annual Stuff the Bus campaign. For this popular program, volunteers collect school supplies and fill backpacks so local students can be well equipped and ready to learn on the first day of school. According to Community Relations Officer Yolanda Hollingsworth, the team hoped to gather enough supplies to fill 500 backpacks, but they crushed that goal by assembling a whopping 702 backpacks.
The top-performing Harpeth Village branch contributed 30 backpacks, and the winning team – Private Wealth – stuffed 116 backpacks, which earned them a free lunch. “I’m so happy we had another a successful campaign this year,” Hollingsworth said. “This program helps prevent struggling families from having to choose between buying school supplies or putting food on the table.” All backpacks collected will go toward nine counties around Middle Tennessee.
Other Middle Tennessee teams also did their part for the Stuff the Bus school supply drive. The five Murfreesboro branches, along with Smyrna, Woodbury, Tullahoma and Shelbyville, collected 70 backpacks. Additionally, the McMinnville North branch team collected a total of 45 backpacks to support schools in Warren County.
As part of the recent Regions DEI Symposium in Regions’ headquarters city, 115 associates from 26 markets packed 200 school supply bags to help students in Blount County, Alabama, start the school year off right. “The supply drive was a welcome addition to this important company event that celebrated inclusion and belonging,” said Gina Sian, Community Affairs manager of execution and operations, who helped coordinate the drive. “Our associates helped lessen the stress of back-to-school expenses by providing not only basic school supplies but also critical learning tools like a scientific calculator and geometry kit.” The supply bags also included an unexpected and thoughtful treat: Volunteers wrote notes for teachers and students wishing them a successful school year.
Regions South and North Consumer Teams who were in town for the DEI Symposium also had an opportunity to support local schools. As part of their Volunteer Extravaganza, Regions teams set up a school supply shop at the East Lake Initiative. Consumer Bank teams and other associates performed gardening and clean-up tasks on a super-hot day at Jones Valley Teaching Farm’s Woodlawn High School facility.
Steve Nivet, Regions Consumer Banking regional executive, was pleased with the participation and the results of the Volunteer Extravaganza. “We fostered teamwork, collaboration and reinforced our commitment to giving back to the communities we serve,” he said.
The Birmingham-based Women in Finance group led a back-to-school shoe drive that resulted in 142 pairs of brand-new sneakers being donated to The United Way of Central Alabama. “These shoes will provide local students with a sense of pride and confidence and ensure they have a great start to the new school year,” said Amanda Saint, Business Unit Controller for Credit and Corporate Administration and chair of the Women in Finance community service working group. “We’re so grateful to our Finance teammates who participated in this important effort.”
Another Birmingham-area effort benefited the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation. Several teams working at the Regions Riverchase North and South locations recently relocated to the nearby Riverchase Operations Center, which required a significant workspace clean-out. Patricia Day, an administrative assistant in Technology, Operations, Digital and Data organization, served as coordinator for the project and organized a large office-supply donation to the foundation. Day was on hand when the “Regions Resource Room” was unveiled on the first day of orientation and training for new teachers. “To see the reactions of the new teachers of what was available to them at no cost was extremely rewarding,” Day said. “The teachers were so appreciative of the supplies donated by Regions.”
The Regions Procurement department is also doing their part in the back-to-school effort. They are donating printers to schools throughout the footprint, including the Tupelo, Fort Myers, Shreveport and Columbus, Georgia, markets.
The Regions Centerville Road branch team connected with local customers for a two-week back-to-school drive in early August. School supplies were collected and delivered to the Pace Center for Girls Leon – just in time for the first day of school. “We were pleased to provide supplies for students and families to reduce the additional financial burden,” said Felicia Richardson, Tallahassee market executive and branch manager.
Like Nashville and Middle Tennessee, the Memphis market team also participated in a United Way “Stuff the Bus” And these Regions associates took the assignment literally. Count them – more than 1,300 binders, glue sticks, folders, notebooks, dry erasers and more valued at almost $5,000 – were collected and contributed by bank team members to benefit the annual United Way of the Mid-South project assisting Shelby County schools in need.
“Ensuring students have essential classroom supplies creates a solid foundation for them to achieve a successful school year,” said David May, leader of Regions’ Mid-America Commercial Banking group and market executive for Memphis. “Whether it’s the Stuff the Bus project, Driving the Dream initiative or our annual workplace giving campaign, our Memphis associates have a proud history of helping United Way and their partner agencies. Once again, our team members were incredibly generous in lending their support.”
Bluetiful, Inchworm and Razzmatazz: they’re names that may not mean much to you but soon will for young budding artists around Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s because nonprofit Classroom Central is putting a full palette of art supplies in the hands of 150,000-plus students attending under-resourced schools. Regions Bank has worked with Classroom Central for many years, including supporting this year’s Color a Brighter Future for Students in Need campaign focused on drawing in items like crayons, markers, colored pencils and more. Charlotte team members personally donated supplies for the drive. A group of associates also participated in the Kits for a Cause kick-off pizza party earlier this month, assembling school supply packets filled with essentials pencils, pens, erasers and more – 336 to be exact.
“The average teacher spends hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket every year just to cover basic school supplies,” said Pamela Anderson-Rudd, Regions Community Mortgage loan officer and this year’s Classroom Central associate collection drive chair. “Arts and craft supplies, which can be more expensive, are often thought of as ‘extras’ and not always included on supply drive wish lists. Encouraging our associates to collect these items allows us to fuel the creativity of thousands of students all year long.”
Associates in South Florida helped fill backpacks with classroom essentials during a school-supply drive benefitting Kristi House, an agency that supports families who have experienced physical abuse, child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, substance abuse, and other traumas. “Several leaders and associates from different Miami markets donated to this amazing cause to provide children with school supplies and gift cards for the new school year,” said Chris Cruzpino, market executive for Miami-Dade County.
Market Executive Robert Birmingham, Consumer Banking Manager Edward Lubembe and the Montgomery, Ala. market team donated 200 Regions-logoed backpacks that will be provided to Montgomery public schools. The Regions team helped fill the bags with pens, notebooks, crayons and other goodies supplied from community members as part of the local Tie and Doll Stuff the Truck campaign.
Community Relations Officer Floresha Watkins summed up the event well, saying, “Education is so important to us at Regions and we are happy to support local students and make sure they get a good foundation for learning. We wish all our students a successful 2023-2024 school year!”
Get in on the back-to-school excitement by sending a fun ecard to a student, teacher, colleague or friend.