- Monday, 08 October 2018
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
In past years, Gallberry Farm Elementary School Principal Dawn Collins has kissed a rabbit and a pig at the school’s annual Fall Festival.
Now she’s bracing to pucker up for a llama. Again.
The vote to determine if Collins or Assistant Principal Natasha Norris gets to be a little too personal with the llama is one of the highlights of this year’s annual event. It’s scheduled for Friday, Oct. 12, from 5-8 p.m. at
the school of about 1,000 students.
Collins started the festival about eight years ago after becoming principal because she felt they needed some kind of community outreach that would involve the school and surrounding area.
“We talked about a spring fling, but so many children are involved in sports in this community (that) we decided the response would be better in the fall.’’
The event is always scheduled on the same Friday when Gray’s Creek High School has an open date on its football schedule. Collins said that’s because she borrows a host of volunteers from the high school student body, pulling from organizations like Future Farmers of America, Student Government Association, National Honor Society, JROTC and the school’s technology academy.
“We truly do not have enough staff to pull this off on our own,’’ she said.
She was briefly worried that Hurricane Florence was going to disrupt this year’s football schedule and possibly wreck the festival, but she remained hopeful things would work out, and they did.
After Hurricane Matthew hit the area in 2016, Collins said Gallberry had the most successful fall festival in school history. She’s hoping for similar results this year. “People were looking for something happy and positive to do,’’ she said. “That’s what we’re hoping now. We know there is a lot of loss in the community. We are hoping we can bring them back together for something lighthearted.’’
For Collins, that probably means kissing a llama again this year. Last year she lost the vote to Norris, and she’s already fearful it will go against her again this time.
She plans to use the same strategy for kissing the llama as last time.
“I tried to go to the side, kiss him on the side of the mouth, and when I did, he turned his whole face to mine,’’ she said. “The kids love it.’’
Anyone from the Gallberry or Gray’s Creek community is welcome to attend, whether they have a child attending the school or not, Collins said.
An entry fee of $10 gets you an armband that pro- vides admission to a host of activities, the highlight of which is the haunted hallway, a hallway in the school building that features child-friendly scares and thrills. There will also be a trunk-or-treat event and unlimited access to an assortment of games.
The armband also covers a hot dog, drink and chips.
There will be additional food items on sale that can be purchased either for cash or with tickets that can be bought on-site, $5 for 20 tickets. All transactions on site will be cash. An ATM will be available.
Collins said the festival is by far the school’s biggest fundraiser each year and holds a special place both for faculty and students.
“It makes me feel very positive about the culture of our school,’’ she said. “It’s just a great community event.’’
- Tuesday, 02 October 2018
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers to ask and it will be given to them.
Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner learned that in a time of natural disaster, the Lowe’s store in Hope Mills takes that admonition literally.
Immediately after Hurricane Florence came and went through Hope Mills, a disaster relief team from the Alabama Baptist State Convention arrived at Southview Baptist Church on Elk Road and set up operations with their mobile trailer.
They were here to provide meals for various relief shelters around the county.
Warner stopped by to introduce herself to the Alabama visitors and ask if there was anything she could do to help.
As it turned out, there was. A second wave of volunteers from Alabama would be arriving within days to help with the cleanup. Unlike the cooking team in the trailer, they would not be coming fully equipped for the job they wanted to tackle.
They provided Warner with a shopping list, a rather lengthy one. It included items like rakes, wheelbarrows, masks, safety glasses, gloves and protective suits for cleaning up hazardous substances like asbestos.
Warner immediately turned to Jennifer McMillan, the manager at the Hope Mills Lowe’s, which opened about a year and a half ago.
“Lowe’s has come in and become a part of the Hope Mills community,’’ Warner said. “They started by making a contribution to the special needs playground we’re going to set up. Anything we need, they’ll support.’’
McMillan wasn’t working that day, but Warner gave her the shopping list and McMillan’s team at Lowe’s took care of the request.
McMillan told Warner to give her a number on how much of each item she needed. The folks from Alabama gave Warner an estimate but would have been glad to get anything they could, she said.
Warner said Lowe’s came through with 35 pairs of work gloves, 30 masks, 30 pairs of safety glasses and protective suits, along with 10 rakes and six wheelbarrows.
“I went there for whatever I might get, and they gave us exactly what I needed,’’ Warner said.
McMillan, who saw the damage Hurricane Matthew did to Hope Mills, said Lowe’s isn’t just a for-profit organization. We are an organization that is there specifically to take care of the community,’’ she said. “We position ourselves to be available, especially in areas that are impacted.’’
McMillan said Warner has been an avid supporter of Lowe’s since it came to Hope Mills as well as a good customer. “When she came, we knew there was going to be a need in the community,’’ McMillan said. “We wanted to be there to support the community from Lowe’s perspective and to be able to support the mayor as well.’’
McMillan said it comes down to basic human kindness. “We care about our communities. We live in our communities, and we want to make sure everything gets back to normal as quickly as possible and that those in need have the ability to provide solutions for themselves as quickly as possible,’’ she said.
“They have become a great team member of Hope Mills,’’ Warner said.
As for cleanup of the entire town, Warner said Hope Mills is ahead of where it was after Hurricane Matthew came through.
“I believe the difference between Matthew and Florence is we were prepared,” Warner said. “People have started signing on to FEMA because they have the contact information. We already have trash and debris pickup.”
Photo: A group from the Hope Mills Lowe’s (left) helped provide supplies for volunteers who came from the Alabama Baptist State Convention (right)