PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry Senior Alisonne Marion has channeled her love and interest in being a kindergarten teacher into a successful Christmas toy drive for the Salvation Army.
“For me, this was a great way to give back to my community,” said Marion.” The school has been really good to support me.”
The project, which began in September, was part of a requirement at East Surry where students must spend at least 15 hours of service with research and a power point presentation before a panel consisting of a school principal, a teacher and a community representative approves the project.
Marion said the research portion led her to discovering the work of the Salvation Army. She also is candid about what she was first surprised to learn about the group.
“I didn’t have any idea they were also a church,” said Marion. “I didn’t know how long they have been in the area and what they do.”
She said after identifying a need and researching an approach to provide aid she had to approach the Salvation Army and present her idea to them. Borrowing from lessons learned as an intern at Pilot Mountain Elementary School, she organized the toy drive effort into a competition where the class collecting the most toys won a pizza party.
The idea was a hit at the school, which has classes from pre-k to fifth grade. Marion even extended an invitation to have a collection box set up at Faith Baptist Church. The church collected enough to fill one large box and three more were filled by the effort at the school.
Mount Airy Salvation Army Major Michael Rodgers was on hand with a truck to receive the toys. He said the group received applications from 1,000 families for Christmas assistance last year.
“It’s looking like we’ll have the same number as last year if not more,” said Rodgers. “The Salvation Army typically helps accident victims. In addition to toys at Christmas we regularly help victims with food, utilities and clothing depending on our local resources.”
Rodgers said the group has been in Surry County since 1939 and was established even earlier in Hickory. He said the mission of the church remains providing the gospel and humanitarian needs and characterized its help as non-conditional on religious affiliation.
“There are some services we can only supply over a year due to finite resources,” added Rodgers. “With the economy making things tighter on families recently it’s been interesting. Each year the number increases which makes efforts like Alisonne’s important. Many of the county schools have helped us.”
He said he looks forward to the army networking with local schools to get the word out about assistance and to help identify families that need aid. Persons with questions about applying for aid may call 786-4075 for more information.
Marion said this was the first community service project she had ever done. Even after the hours of research, designing and handing out fliers and planning she feels a sense of accomplishment.
“It was a good experience,” said Marion. “Mrs. Angela Carson, Pilot Mountain Elementary Principal, was really supportive of me, the whole school was. I’d probably do something like this again.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.