I heard a story recently that reminded me of the often unexpected impact of volunteer service.
Faye Hendrix is a sales associate at the Belk department store in Fayetteville, Ga., a main-street town south of Atlanta that is in many ways like the Georgia town where I grew up. It's a community with deep roots, where neighbors don't just know each others' names, they know their aunts' and uncles' names, too. It's a town where volunteer service isn't a "movement," it's just something you do.
For the past eight months, Faye has worked at Belk, a family-owned store founded by William Henry Belk in 1888 and run today by his two grandsons, Johnny and Tim. Belk has been a fixture in towns like Fayetteville -- and in cities like Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas -- for 125 years. To celebrate its 125th anniversary, the Belk family announced that it would give back to communities across the South with 125 Days of Service.
Over the next 125 days, Faye and all 23,000 other Belk employees will have the opportunity to volunteer on service projects in partnership with Points of Light and its HandsOn Network affiliates to improve schools in communities that need help -- painting rooms, building bookcases, cleaning playgrounds, planting seeds, organizing book drives.
When Faye heard about the Belk project at Kemp Elementary in Fayetteville, she cried. Kemp Elementary is her daughters' school. Belk's $2 million commitment to improving schools matters to Faye not only because it matters to her employer, but because it matters to her daughters. And because she will have a hand in making it all happen.
Last week, as a student at Montclair Elementary in Charlotte watched 200 volunteers painting, building and landscaping at his school, he said just one word: "Awesome." I couldn't agree more.
Please "like" Points of Light on Facebook to see photos from the kickoff project and to join me in congratulating Belk and its employees on their 125th anniversary. May there be many more.
Follow Michelle Nunn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@pointsoflight