Thumbs up and down

Aug. 10, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

THUMBS DOWN: Empty ‘buses’

The “Stuff the Bus” program that Communities In Schools of Lee County has traditionally operated has been designed to help students in need prepare for the coming school year. Parents and others out shopping for school supplies could donate supplies and other suggested items to CIS, which in turn would provide them to students who needed them.

This year’s drive continues through Aug. 22, but so far the pickings have been pretty slim at the collection sites — Walmart, all three Walgreens locations, BB&T Bank’s offices on Horner Boulevard and Spring Lane and the CIS office on South Steele Street.

One probable factor in the fact that CIS has “collected very, very little,” according to Executive Director Heather McKenzie, is that CIS’ event has been held in conjunction with North Carolina’s annual “tax free weekend.” With this year’s repeal of that time period where the state provided temporary sales tax relief on many kinds of items associated with the return to the classroom, potential donors may not feel as great a pull to help out. In any event, with school starting Aug. 25, that’s created a sense of real urgency.

“We’re already having people call and needing help with school supplies,” Johnnye Waller, the director of student services for Lee County Schools, told The Herald this week. “We are very appreciative of Communities in Schools; they do such an awesome job getting supplies together and making them accessible.”

McKenzie said a number of local businesses and churches have committed to help out, but unless many individuals and businesses step up, needs will go unmet.

And Waller said: “It’s nice for us to know we have a community that cares that much and wants them to have that positive beginning. We want to say thank you to our community; we appreciate the difference they make.”

So take advantage of the chance to fill the bus and help local students. Visit one of the collection sites or send a contribution c/o Communities in Schools to P.O. Box 1132, Sanford, N.C. 27331. For more information or to see the list of suggested supplies, visit CIS’ website at and click on “supply wish list and locations.”

THUMBS UP: Working out your survival

A diagnosis of cancer doesn’t always mean a death sentence. Advances in treatment and the recognition of the importance of early detection means more and more cancer patients emerge from the bad news of cancer with good news and good health.

But the strain of the cancer experience can be daunting. Survivors often come away from the experience with aspects of their lives out of balance.

Lee County YMCA Wellness Director Valerie Marcy, in talking about the Y’s “Livestrong at the Y” program, told The Herald this week that cancer survivors don’t just face a loss of physical ability, but also social interaction and other life skills.

There is help for local survivors in this area: beginning Sept. 9, the Y is offering a free 12-week program for cancer survivors to address the physical, mental, emotional and social challenges they face once treatment is competed. The program uses a variety exercise, lessons about nutrition and many other tools to equip survivors.

Previous program participants report great results from “Livestrong at the Y,” designed in conjunction with the Livestrong Foundation, which has been helping cancer patients for more than a decade. Thanks to the efforts of the local Y and its volunteer trainers, survivors in Lee County have a guiding hand in making their post-cancer lives more fulfilling.