Communities in Schools of Lincoln County (CIS) hosted its first annual “Be a Hero Art Auction” Friday at the Lincoln Cultural Center in an effort to showcase student artwork and raise money and awareness for the nonprofit organization.
Each year, around 100 adults volunteer as mentors with CIS, one of the nation’s largest drop-out prevention programs, according to Lincoln County’s CIS Executive Director Billy Marsh.
Once a week, mentors visit the seven different county schools that offer the CIS elective class, Marsh said.
In addition to each of the area middle schools, all county high schools, except North Lincoln, have signed up with the organization’s mentoring program.
The focus of the elective is meeting student needs, whether it be motivation to complete school assignments, assistance with homework or simple interaction.
“We’re in the ‘giving hope’ business,” Marsh said. “You can take a 2-minute intervention and change a kid’s week or year.”
He added how many students are “held back” in life simply because they lack the necessary resources.
One child may need glasses but is too shy to admit he can’t read, Marsh noted, while another is ashamed to return to school with the same clothes worn the previous day.
He pointed out how children often struggle on account of elements affecting them outside the classroom, not necessarily issues taking place at school.
“We help them overcome barriers that might hold them back from success in life,” Marsh said.
While CIS can cater to students in a number of ways through the programs it offers, including handing out back packs and other school supplies, public help in the form of donations and volunteer work is also required.
“There are people and resources in the community,” Marsh said, “that we can connect families to.”
CIS particularly enforces the “three E’s” — educate, enlist or employ.
Nonprofit officials and volunteers alike seek to guide students into the future, not just help them in their current state — pushing each child to continue one’s education past high school, enlist in the military or secure employment and keep on track with attaining certain goals.
“We work with students by not just giving them a pathway to graduating school but developing a plan for after graduation,” Marsh said.
In addition to providing assistance, the CIS program also teaches children the importance of giving, allowing them annual opportunities to collect canned food items or winter coats for needy citizens as well as create encouraging cards for nursing home residents, Marsh said.
With Friday’s “Be a Hero” event, which included both a silent and live auction along with a catered dinner, middle school students and one high school student showcased pictures they painted of their favorite heroes.
A number of pieces included popular comic book superheroes.
“This is a way for them to show their artistic abilities and who their heroes are,” Shelby Gilmore, CIS marketing and resource development coordinator, said.
Local artists and businesses also donated artwork and other items auctioned off at the event — also sponsored by Carolina Trust Bank.
For more information on CIS, visit lincoln.communitiesinschools.org.