TLC Community Center collects hygiene and school supplies for children in need

Published 8:04 am Friday, November 30, 2018

When the halls are cluttered with bins and boxes of items, many would consider it an unorganized disaster. For the TLC Community Center, however, it is the best news all year.

Elizabethton’s TLC Community Center has been collecting various hygiene and school supplies since mid-October of this year.

Angie Odom, founder and executive director of the center, said this is the fifth year they have organized this project.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Known as Project Hometown, the collection drive is one of many yearly projects the center organizes to better the lives of Carter County residents who need the assistance.

“There is no one big donor of supplies,” Odom said. “We get donations from everyone.”

As part of their Christmas project, Odom said Bundles of Love serves to give children supplies they desperately need like soap and school supplies.

“I could never get over how many kids do not have a washcloth,” she said. “They do not have the things they need.”

She also said the project is meant to provide supplies other organizations and people often forget about.

“People only think about donating school supplies in August,” Odom said. “School supplies need to be replaced, though. They need new pens, paper and more after a few months of school.”

Bundles of Love accepts a variety of items, including hygiene products and school supplies. At the end of the collection period, Odom said workers and volunteers alike come together and gather the items into individual bundles of supplies.

The center sets an annual goal of 1,000 bags every year, but they always miss the mark by about a hundred or less.

Odom said three items in particular could make a difference in reaching that number.

“We are looking for gloves, hats and shampoo,” she said. “We are looking for gender-neutral colors to make everything easier.”

Once the materials are gathered, volunteers meet at the center to put together the bags. Odom described the process as “an extremely long trick-or-treat event,” in which volunteers walk up to tables and grab the item they need for their bag, and then move on to the next table. When they have visited all the tables, they turn in their full bag and grab a new, empty one.

She said the process begins at four, and only ends once everything is in a bag.

Odom said her favorite part of the project is watching the community pull together to make it happen.

“You can hear everyone having a good time, working together,” she said. “I enjoy knowing how excited the children are when they receive their bags.”

The completed bags go to a variety of places including several schools,  who provided the center with names of students who need them.

Odom said the center will continue to accept donations until December 10. Donors can bring the supplies either directly to the center itself, located at 145 Judge Don Lewis Blvd., or at donation bins at Northeast Community Credit Union locations in Carter County.

“If we can get these three items, we will make our goal,” Odom said.

Donors with any questions can contact Odom at the center at 423-543-4673 or by stopping by the center.