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This school year, several local businesses will help Owen District schools through donations of time, money and services.

Dynamite Roasting Co., for example, will donate coffee for teacher appreciation events and fundraisers. "The strong and vibrant community that attracted us here makes up the same people that support our business. We are, in turn, committed to giving back," co-owner Andy Gibbon said.

In an age in which North Carolina's public school systems are having difficulty getting new textbooks and technology, parents, teachers, civic groups and businesses are helping fill the void. At Black Mountain Savings Bank, financial support for community schools is a high priority.

"Schools are at the heart of every community. The young minds sitting in our local classrooms are our tomorrow," said Meredith Begley, secretary-treasurer of Black Mountain Savings Bank. "I feel a sense of pride in my role as a business partner when I can write a check supporting a financial need. But this support pales in comparison to when I volunteer in a classroom, serve on a school committee or eat lunch with my son at Black Mountain Primary."

Fundraising efforts at schools help stock supply closets for teachers and allow them to make special purchases. They help pay for events to show the teachers and staff that they are appreciated. They make uniforms and sporting equipment available to athletes. They pay for playground equipment and reception desk help. They make drama and arts education possible.

Businesses' support of schools locally is evident in raffles and auctions, newsletter sponsorships, staff appreciation prizes, catered lunches and coffee for staff and parent volunteers and a golf tournament that raises money for sports equipment.

At Black Mountain Yoga, owner Martia Rachman find much pleasure in showing support to the local public, charter and private schools.

"We believe in what the schools and teachers do for our community, namely our children," she said. "If the local businesses and people in the community back our teachers, counselors and staff, it continues to build a strong Black Mountain community."

Black Mountain Yoga contributes to school auctions. It discounts its classes for teachers and donates its time to teach yoga and meditation to students and staff in school.

At Black Mountain Elementary, business support comprises about 25% of the school's PTO budget, to be invested right back in to the school, Lisa Kinney, PTO president, said.

The Owen High School digital sign on Old U.S. 70 is a good example of business and community support, said principal Meg Turner. Businesses contributed much of the $25,000 to buy and install the sign. Businesses also support the school by buying advertisements in the school yearbook, newspaper, and football and drama programs. Businesses even help sponsor cheerleaders and athletes who cannot get their own equipment, Turner said.

Outside funding at Owen High comes from businesses, civic groups, independent community donors, and nonprofit organizations such as the Old Depot Association, the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund and Hand in Hand.

"The experience for our high school students would be so much less without this support," Turner said. "They enhance what we are able to do and broaden our potential as a school. Part of what makes our Owen district special is the community here. Every time we reach out to the community, we receive support."

Chip Craig, owner of Greybeard Realty and Rentals, is easily motivated to support local schools. "I know from serving on the Buncombe County school board that our schools are under-funded and do amazing things with very little money," he said. "As a local business owner, I also feel it is important to give back to the community. We routinely spent money on advertising. Why not 'advertise' through making donations to schools? It is a win-win, and the right thing to do,"  Craig said.

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