Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
Living in these uncertain times, one thing is certain, kids get hungry and need access to food. With Macon County Schools being closed, many students will not be getting their free breakfasts or lunch as they would if they were in school. Some parents will have to miss work to stay home and care for their children, thus possibly forfeiting a pay check, making it more difficult to feed their children. Here in Franklin, several community members have stepped up to help out.
Local businesses reaching out
Ace Hardware is one such business that is doing their part to ensure that kids do not go hungry while school is out. Normally, a Little Free Pantry, which is located in the parking lot of Ace Hardware, is stocked with food for anyone in need to just help themselves. In the winter, folks can grab a pair of gloves or a hat or scarf from the pantry, but today things are different. The pantry has expanded to offer more food to anyone in need during this critical time in our community. Donations have been pouring in to Ace Hardware thanks to Ace owners Cortney and Josh Patrick. Cortney felt like she needed to supply more than what the Little Pantry normally holds so she decided to ask for donations of food while school is out to give to children in need. She posted on Facebook’s Franklin Little Pantry site asking for help and what happened was overwhelming. The food came pouring in, so much so that Josh had to open the backroom of the store to hold it all. Cortney works as a pharmacist in Sylva so while she is not physically able to help at the store, her idea took off with great success. Josh explains.
“We do not want any notoriety for this. We just want to help out. Don’t be shy, come and get a bag of food if you need it,” he said.
Their way of distributing the food is very discreet. When a person is in need they only have to message Josh through the Franklin Little Pantry Facebook site or call Ace Hardware and just give their initials. Josh then fills a bag of food and puts it up front at the counter in the store with their initials on it. They just need to come in, grab their bag and go home.
Cortney and Josh are asking for any non-perishable food items, as long as they are sealed. He asks, please, no open bags or boxes. Bring your items to Appalachian Ace Hardware at 75 W. Palmer Street. Kid-friendly items such as canned meats, soups, pasta and cereals are items to donate. Snacks are also being accepted. Just think about what you might give your child for lunch and donate accordingly.
Other community businesses have also offered to donate food for students. The Normandy Restaurant, the Gazebo, Rockin Rollie Pollies, Life’s Bounty and Motor Company Grill will also be donating five meals each on Friday to be given out at South Macon Elementary, to families in need.
Motor Company Grill will also be giving one free meal to any child, every day this week. Kids can come in and sit down or take their order to go.
New School Calendar
School may be out but learning will continue. The School Board, in accordance with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order, will be adjusting the school calendar to include the following changes.
Food Distribution Sites officially opened on Tuesday, March 17, and are located at Franklin High School, Mountain View Intermediate School, South Macon Elementary School, Highlands School and Nantahala School. Parents and students may pick up food from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, school buses will be running their regular routes during the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to deliver meals to those who cannot pick them up. These meals will be free of charge.
At-Home Learning also began on Tuesday, March 17. Principals will communicate detailed information with students regarding the At-Home Learning experience. Students can contact their teacher or principal with questions.
Wireless access at all Macon County Schools locations will be available for students. District-provided student devices will automatically connect when in range. Wireless access will be made available at Franklin High School this week with the other schools to follow. If students have questions or need assistance with technology during their At-Home Learning, Macon County Schools Tech Support can be reached at (828)524-3314 ext. 1044 or email at email@example.com
Schools anticipate returning on March 31, but the ongoing situation regarding coronavirus may impact that date.
Mountain View Intermediate (MVI) held a video conference on Monday evening and announced that the Washington DC Trip for the sixth graders will be postponed until July 13-17. This date is tentative depending on the status of the virus at that time. MVI will also be holding a meeting for parents whose children will be going on the DC trip in the near future. They will be contacting parents via, MVI’s Facebook website, email and phone calls.
The Macon County Library will be closed while the schools are closed. Library personnel will still be working and anyone with a library card can access books on line. Students can use their lunch account ID to stream videos and read books. Library personnel will try to be available to check out books, curbside, while they are closed. They can be reached at (828) 524-3600.
The Crawford Senior Center will be closed until further notice, but will be giving out congregate meals via a drive-through at the center. Home meals will also continue to be provided for those who are unable to get out.
Most churches are suspending Sunday worship service and holding online worship instead. Check with your local church to participate in their online Sunday Service and to follow their closure schedule.
For many other shops it is business as usual, for now. As per an executive order from the governor, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, restaurants are closed for dine-in but many are accepting take-out orders and some are offering delivery. Store owners, barber shops, hair salons and others are all taking extra precautions by wiping down their counters and other items with disinfectant. Most businesses will be posting on social media if they need to close for any duration of time.
As new as this all is, the community has come together to make it all work out. If we all follow some simple rules like washing our hands and keeping a bit of a distance from one another, this, too, shall pass and Spring is just on the horizon.