DOBSON — Deavyn Edwards recently celebrated his 17th birthday, but one thing that never seems to get old with the passage of time is his desire to tackle hunger in Surry County.
Every fall for the past five years, Deavyn has used the occasion of his birthday to generate non-perishable items for Foothills Food Pantry. Although he employs different collection methods, the main one involves having family members and friends give him food for the bank instead of the presents he normally would receive.
This year, Deavyn, a resident of the Holly Springs community who is a junior at Surry Early College High School of Design, set a record for his food collections, amassing 1,203 pounds of items. That broke the previous record of 1,085 pounds set in 2011.
“It is a pickup bed loaded with food,” Foothills Food Pantry Coordinator Beverly Jones said of what 1,200 pounds of items translates to in understandable terms. “Each year he sets a higher goal than the last.”
While the pantry always is glad to receive donations to help those in need, the way in which Deavyn Edwards goes about that has made a big impression there.
“We tend to think of teen-agers being very self-centered,” Jones said of an alleged inclination to dwell on their own wish lists when birthdays or Christmas are approaching.
“It’s remarkable for anyone to sacrifice what they want in order to get what other people need,” she said.
Deavyn said Friday afternoon that when someone isn’t hungry themselves, it is easy to forget that there are people in Surry County who don’t have anything to put on the table. The youth said he is constantly motivated by this reality.
“I have been blessed beyond measure and having a canned food drive the first year just seemed like an easy way to give back,” he added of how his annual campaign originated.
While the core of Deavyn’s charitable efforts is having people donate food in lieu of buying gifts for his birthday, they also include other methods that after five years operate with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine.
Early on, he’ll typically distribute fliers announcing that food contributions are being solicited, and then follows that up in several ways.
“I have a food drive in my neighborhood,” Deavyn said of one, which involves going door to door. “I even had teachers donate this year and my principal donated, along with friends.”
The student also has adult relatives collect food at their workplaces, among other efforts.
People have grown accustomed to participating every year, and after Deavyn was a little late getting started this fall, one of his neighbors even approached him and asked about the campaign.
The youth’s parents, Daniel and April Edwards, naturally are proud of what they called their son’s “continued commitment to help others in need,” and pointed out that the food program is but one of his many volunteer endeavors throughout the year.
This includes volunteer work at Northern Hospital of Surry County, which Deavyn says matches his career interest of wanting to become a health-care administrator after college.
Deavyn, who has a brother, Cooper, 8, and a sister, Addison, 6, is vice president of the Student Council at his school and an officer of its Interact Club, a service group for young people.
Jones, the pantry coordinator, is excited about getting the food he garners each year — especially with holidays looming — but thinks the example Deavyn Edwards sets is even more valuable.
“He hopes to be an inspiration for other people,” she said of his efforts. “I also hope it will be a motivator for other kids to do that. We all should be inspired to action by this young man’s service to others.”
Presents of clothing or electronics are always nice to get, but for his part the teen says the “incredible feeling” he receives from seeing all the food carted into the pantry is truly priceless.
“It makes me feel really good.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.