DOBSON — Pam Marion looked on as a fifth-wheel trailer full of goods was unloaded Tuesday morning at the Children’s Center in Dobson, wiping away tears as she videoed the procession.
“I know my little redhead is up there just smiling,” she said, referring to her son, Pfc. Adam Lee Marion, who was killed in Iraq in 2008 and whose involvement with the center led to the massive Christmas donation made by IOMAX USA.
Based in Mooresville, IOMAX is an aviation contractor that modifies civilian aircraft for military use.
About 70 percent of the company’s 208 employees are veterans, said Chad Anderson, IOMAX senior director for corporate support who is himself a veteran with 20 years of service.
The company’s annual charity efforts are typically directed at the spouses and children of fallen soldiers, said Paul Gradus, of the N.C. National Guard survivor outreach services.
Gradus has been working consistently with the Marions since their son’s death and also assists with the family’s annual golf tournament that also benefits the Children’s Center.
He had worked last year with IOMAX on a different outreach project.
This year, he pointed them toward the Children’s Center in honor of Adam Marion.
“Adam didn’t have a spouse or children,” Gradus said, but he was passionate about helping the abused, neglected and at-risk children served by the center.
“Those were Adam’s children,” he said.
Sold on the idea, organizers at IOMAX collected donations from employees throughout the holiday season, accepting both cash and purchased gifts.
Anderson didn’t know the total amount of the donations, but the delivery Tuesday included some big-ticket items such as numerous mattresses, stoves, refrigerators and a crib, in addition to Christmas gifts for the children.
“We would like to send a sincere thank you to IOMAX USA for their generosity,” said Robin Testerman, Children’s Center executive director. “This means the world to us and the children.”
A handful of officials were present Tuesday when the truck arrived: Dobson Mayor Ricky Draughn, Dobson Manager Josh Smith, Surry County Commissioner Larry Johnson and magistrate John Snow; each of whom pitched in and helped unload.
Testerman played a video to IOMAX representatives the children had made saying “thank you” and “Merry Christmas,” and spoke briefly to the crowd after the heavy lifting was finished.
“I cannot thank you enough,” she said, noting that the center had began the year with a $20,000 budget deficit.
“You just saved us a ton.”
Last year, the Children’s Center provided 24-hour care, clothing, meals, transportation and assistance with homework to 86 children in two shelters, according to information provided by Testerman.
“These children went to bed full, well nourished, supported and better off than the night before,” she said, noting that the Dobson shelter houses 15 children at a time and is typically at capacity.
The agency also serves about 800 children and families through various youth and parenting programs.
“We do have a lot of local support we could not survive without,” from the schools, churches and local businesses such as LBA Haynes Strand, Prism Medical Products and Phillips-Van Heusen Distribution Center, said Testerman.
Anderson noted that because a portion of the IOMAX staff is currently working overseas, the haul of gifts reflects the generosity of only about 130 people.
“It was just a huge outpouring,” Anderson said. “It tears at your heartstrings.”
“Christmas is a special time here at IOMAX and it has been our honor to provide this assistance to Children’s Center,” stated Ron Howard, CEO and president.
“We are certainly blessed in this company and our hope is these kids have a wonderful Christmas,” Anderson said.
Dave Allman, an upper-level manager at IOMAX, said delivering the truck full of donations felt incredible.
“We’re just grateful for the opportunity to give back,” he said.
Pam Marion seemed pleased that so much good had been done in her son’s name.
“I have been overwhelmed,” she said. “He just loved children. He would think this was wonderful that people were that giving. He just had a really good heart and loved everybody, young, old, rich or poor.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.