Tennessee Serves partnership with Purposity provides basic necessities for 62 families

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A partnership between First Lady Maria Lee’s Tennessee Serves initiative and Atlanta-based nonprofit fundraising app Purposity has raised about $1,200 to provide basic essentials for families across the state.

Lee’s initiative joined forces with the Tennessee Department of Education and mobile app Purposity to enable Tennesseans across the state to provide necessities such as socks, shoes and basic necessities, while serving each other at a distance.

The project began when Purposity founder and CEO Blake Canterbury approached the Governor’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives to inquire about a partnership.

“When we dove in a little more and kind of researched a little more about what they’re about, we saw a great opportunity,” First Lady Maria Lee told The Center Square.

Individual needs identified by school-based family resource officers, social workers or guidance counselors can list items needed by families in the school community on the Purposity app. Needs are publicly viewable for donors to find and contribute. Members of the public then download the Purposity app, join the Tennessee Serves team, and choose an item to donate and provide.

“As we’ve been traveling the state and meeting nonprofits and hearing their concerns, [we saw] there are needs all across the state,” Lee said. “We just thought, ‘You know, what if somebody knew about this need who’d be able to meet it?’ I think they could meet it.”

Most items listed by resource officers cost between $17 and $33 to fulfill: a new pair of shoes or a pair of jeans for a child, a set of bed sheets, deodorant or water bottles for a school to provide to students to use as water fountains are dismantled because of COVID-19.

Once a donation is made to meet a need on the app, Purposity facilitates delivery of the item to the school, and a family resource officer or point of contact facilitates delivery of the item to the student or family in need.

As of launch, 34 school districts listed more than 450 needs on the app. In the first three weeks, donors have met 62 needs of families across the state.

Before its partnership with Tennessee Serves, family resource centers in several school districts used Purposity to provide necessities for 2,800 students and families.

“Today we got to actually deliver some basic needs to a family,” Lee said during a recent visit to Westwood Elementary School in Manchester. “It was just a joy to see rewarding, and lets me know that this app is doing great things, not only in Manchester, but can do great things all across the state are so many kids and families.”

The partnership between Purposity and the state did not cost any state funds.

“Purposity is built on the idea that if you knew a neighbor was in need, you’d help,” Canterbury said in a statement. “People want to do good in their communities – they just typically don’t know where to start. Now, Tennesseans have a place to turn to help their neighbors in need.”

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