Elon will pay it forward in April

The Center for Leadership at Elon University and the Kernodle Center for Civic Life are collaborating with the Alamance-Burlington School System during a hygiene drive for K-12 youth in the county. The drive is part of the weeklong Pay it Forward Week April 20-27, 2024.

The Center for Leadership at Elon University is hosting Pay it Forward Week April 20-27 to spread kindness among members of Elon and to Alamance County community members. The week will feature five events, starting on Saturday, April 20, with a Gender-Affirming Clothing Swap and finishing the following Saturday, April 27, with a garden workday at Peacehaven Community Farm.

Edith Smith, program assistant for the Center for Leadership, says that helping others is important to her department and that “paying it forward and helping somebody is taking that extra step to lead and support others.”

Hygiene Products Requested During Donation Drive

Smith will be cohosting the Pay it Forward Donation Drive along with Andrew Moffa, assistant director for the Kernodle Center for Civic Life to support the Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS). ABSS requests new and unopened deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and body wash.

All donations can be made to donation boxes outside of the Center for Leadership at Moseley Center Room 230 and Kernodle Center, Moseley Center Room 232. Final donations will be accepted from 4-7 p.m. on April 23 at Young Commons.

Smith and Moffa partnered with Kim Yarborough, lead school social worker for ABSS, to put the drive together. Yarborough says that it is challenging for students to learn when their basic needs are not met and that some students have even avoided school due to not having clean clothes or feeling they do not have adequate hygiene supplies.

“With costs rising in supplies, this drive will help alleviate a barrier that families may have when trying to purchase these items,” Yarborough said.

Immersing in Alamance County

The Kernodle Center works with students to help them better understand that for the four or five years they attend Elon, they are Alamance County citizens, Moffa said. Many live in Alamance County and some stay after graduation. “Being a citizen of the county, you have a responsibility to be part of the positive change that is happening,” Moffa said. “And part of that is giving of your time and other resources.”

He said that giving back has many forms and can be direct service, contributing to a donation drive or even supporting local businesses.

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Smith previously worked in three county school systems, including ABSS, before joining Elon. She has had roles in elementary, middle and high schools. She said there is always a need and always a struggle. Sometimes that looks like a student forgetting their hygiene product before coming to school to a family being unable to purchase the items.

“A student can feel self-conscious about their hygiene and think about it all day,” Smith said. “I have had students come to me before in my prior roles with various needs, like deodorant. Just having it available – something small that a student can use that a school does not have to worry about purchasing – that’s important.”

Yarborough said the importance of partnership is for the community to understand and support the needs of some ABSS families. “We realize that the community partners play a huge role in assisting our schools and it alleviates the barriers that our school system may have when finances are a personal challenge,” Yarborough said.

Students donating school supplies.
Students donating school supplies as part of Greek Week at Elon in fall 2023.

In fall 2023, the Kernodle Center hosted a similar drive during Greek Week for Elon fraternities and sororities. Moffa appreciates the idea of extending these efforts to both fall and spring and values the collaboration with the Center for Leadership and ABSS.

Consider donating any or multiple of the listed hygiene products by April 23 to support students in the local Alamance-Burlington School System or contact lead@elon.edu for any questions.