WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County "School Buddies" program said donations are the lowest they've ever been and there aren't enough school supplies to help the nearly 7,000 students showing up on Monday morning unable to afford what they need.
School Buddies was started by school social workers nearly 20 years ago. The school social workers identify students who can't afford school supplies and who've missed other opportunities for help.
The program gives them supplies including backpacks and in some cases clothes and food.
"This year donations have been way down and the needs have been way up," said Larry Sharpe, social work manager for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. "I anticipate that this year will be a struggle to meet the needs here."
Sharpe said the supply closet is almost empty and there is no way they will meet demands on the first day, much less throughout the year.
Officials said money or supplies can be donated directly to the social worker at any neighborhood school and 100 percent of donations go to the School Buddies program.
Sharpe said he wants all students to be successful.
"Anything that is a barrier to them doing well for example being hungry, not having supplies, not having adequate clothes, not having shoes, those all interfere with kids being successful in school," Sharpe said.