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Back-to-school drive benefits Presbyterian Manor staff with school-aged children

Carmen Payne understands that back-to-school shopping can be a financial burden for parents.

Rolla Presbyterian Manor’s dining services director is also a grandmother, and she has seen school supply lists grow longer and longer over the years.

“Back to school isn’t like when my kids were young and the school supplied everything,” Carmen said. “Now parents have to buy hundreds of dollars of stuff to send their kids back to school.”

Carmen says this can be a real burden for parents who work for an hourly wage, which includes many Presbyterian Manor employees. That’s what gave her the idea to organize a back-to-school drive for staff with school-aged children.

For the second year in a row, the Presbyterian Manor leadership team has purchased items on back-to-school lists using their personal funds. The goods are set up so that employees can pick out what their children need at no cost to them.

“When I brought it up, the leadership team was all about it,” Carmen said. “We want to help.”

Last year, 20 employees benefitted from the program, and this year the initiative served 16.

“I have an employee who has six children, and four of them are in school,” Carmen said. “She works as a dining services assistant, so she’s not making a fortune. We figure it helps that she didn’t have to buy pencils, crayons, markers and notebooks for her children to go back to school.”

Carmen said the response from employees has been overwhelmingly positive. She even received a thank-you from the daughter of a staff member.

“It’s a rough time right now, and we wanted our staff to know that we appreciate them and we want to help them however we can,” Carmen said. “And it makes us feel good. It’s a blessing to be able to bless other people.”

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