DOBSON – The Foothills Food Pantry here received a revitalized driveway thanks to Surry Community College students.
SCC students enrolled in the Construction Management Technology program recently resurfaced the location under the guidance of instructor Michael Wall. The group spent two days preparing, pouring and spreading the concrete for what was previously a severely cracked, worn lot in desperate need of repair, according to the teacher.
It was a safety hazard, said Nate Nixon, a member of the pantry’s board of directors. He was worried someone would trip and fall while carrying groceries in or out of the center.
The pantry needed an expert to look at the site and explain what needed to be done so that the work will last several years, not just a few, said coordinator Robin Hardin.
Nixon knew of an old college classmate who became a registered professional civil engineer. Alan Brown came up and gave an analysis. The director were willing to pay Alan for his time, but he refused to take any money, noted Nixon, adding that some of those guys charge $500 to $600 an hour.
The area needing work was 25 feet wide and 90 feet long. Six inches of concrete would be good enough over the gravel base for where the cars would drive. However, where the trash trucks pull in, the depth would need to be a foot to support that extra weight, the engineer explained.
The cost of such a project would be tens of thousands of dollars — money that the food pantry would rather go toward feeding the needy.
Nixon, who retired from SCC five years ago, knew about the CMT program and reached out to the instructor.
“We do a lot of projects like this around the community,” Wall said. “It’s a great way for students to gain experience while we help out those around us at the same time.”
In addition to the recently paved food pantry driveway, SCC’s construction students also are building a Habitat for Humanity house in Dobson.
As a nonprofit, this was a huge savings in labor, said Hardin.
The pantry reached out to many local residents and businesses, who responded with donations of both money and supplies, such as Insteel providing the metal rebar that reinforces the concrete.
In only a month, the pantry had reached its $10,000 goal.
“My heart was just overjoyed with how people responded,” said Nixon.
Not only did the driveway need work, but there was erosion damage, too, Nixon added. A local farmer brought over some heavy equipment and did grading work all day for free.
With the college providing free labor on the driveway, and other volunteers assisting with the building of a retaining wall, the project came in under budget.
“This is an incredible demonstration of what a community can do,” said Nixon.
Every day, clients and volunteers have commented on how nice the property is, said Hardin.
SCC offers a degree in Construction Management Technology and a diploma and certificate in Carpentry.
For more information about the Construction program, call Student Services at (336) 386-3264 or go to www.surry.edu. The deadline to enroll in spring classes is Dec. 16.