COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Ahead of Thursday night’s Hootie and The Blowfish concert at Colonial Life Arena, South Carolina teachers collected school supplies and donations to help students and teachers struggling to make ends meet in Richland County.
SC for Ed is the non-profit organization that is garnering support of the Hootie and The Blowfish Foundation and the Central Carolina Community Foundation. Together, the two foundations created “Hootie Gives,” which allows the band to give back to the community it calls home.
The three-night concert series wrapping up the group’s “Group Therapy Tour” features three non-profits who are raising money and collecting donations outside of Colonial Life Arena. On Wednesday, the 9/11 Remembrance Foundation of South Carolina partnered with the band, while Friday night will offer a non-perishable food drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank.
“As someone who is from Columbia, South Carolina, it’s Hootie and the Blowfish!” said Dottie Adams, an SC for Ed member. “So anytime you can be associated with someone from our state, from our hometown, that’s just incredible.”
According to SC for Ed, the state underfunded its education mandate by $370 million last year, forcing teachers to dig deeper into their pockets to finance supplies for their classrooms.
“It’s not just financial. For teachers to know they’ve got what they need for the whole year takes a little bit of stress off. They shouldn’t be buying pencils and dry erase markers and tissues out of their own pocket,” said Robert Lominack, the executive director of Richland County Public Education Partners.
Standing outside of Colonial Life Arena, the organization is attempting to fill a school bus full of school supplies. In particular, it said pencils, dry erase markers, bleach wipes, copy paper, and tissues are some of the most sought after needs in the classroom.
“If Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks are struggling, we talk about it every day and he gets grilled about it,” Lominack said. “If education is struggling, we got to have the gumption to talk about it, admit it, and I think this is a great time to raise that awareness.”
On average, South Carolina teachers will spend nearly $600 a year out of pocket on supplies, according to recent figures. Following their march at the State House in May, SC for Ed says the exposure from an event like a Hootie and the Blowfish concert will allow for members to continue to spread awareness about the public school system in South Carolina and its shortcomings.
“Anytime we can bring education to the forefront and let people know they need to support our public schools and our teachers, those teachers will then be able to go and support their students in the classroom,” Adams said.
The school supplies collected Thursday night will benefit students and teachers in Richland School District One and Richland School District Two. SC for ED also said it has reached out to districts in the Lowcountry to see if they have any immediate needs following Hurricane Dorian.