Area Belk associates have volunteered time and materials for a local school to mark the 125th anniversary of the department store this year.
Belk of Mayberry Mall associates worked in partnership with Points of Light, an organization which helps mobilize and coordinate the retail chain’s efforts.
The effort is known as the Belk 125 Days of Service project with volunteers doing school makeovers over a period of 125 days. HandsOn Northwest North Carolina Executive Director Amy Lytle said school makeovers in the region vary based on school needs with projects ranging from painting classrooms, landscaping and other improvements. Lytle said HandsOn is the local affiliate of Points of Light.
The group chose Flat Rock Elementary School for its improvement efforts this year. Projects included painting tiles which will be assembled into a decorative mosaic for the school, assembling book cases and a picnic table and staging a book drive.
“Our national organization will be involved in projects in 16 states,” commented Lytle. “We operate as a liaison between schools and Belk. Every one of the 301 Belk stores will be involved in helping with makeovers at Title I schools.” She said a quarter of the local store’s staff was involved with the project Tuesday at Flat Rock and said a variety of in-store projects to benefit the school as well.
“We are such a diverse group,” added Lytle. “The main thing we hope to stress is that no matter how big or small an organization you are you can do something to help.”
Belk Store Manager Tenisha Bridges said nine associates were helping with the on-site improvements at Flat Rock. She said each associate was encouraged to spend a minimum of two hours on site helping.
“Our associates have an opportunity to volunteer every year in honor of our anniversary,” said Bridges. “It’s a big effort and we enjoy it. Engagement in our community is what it’s all about. We want to be hands on. We are a philanthropic company who has always been involved with our communities. We are family-oriented and a family-owned company.”
Bridges said it seemed only natural to the associates once the book shelves were built and painted, a book drive was needed to purchase the volumes for the shelves. She said they also were making “magic reading carpets” or mats for students to sit on. Another project Bridges was proud of is the store providing Principal Molly Anderson with a makeover and new wardrobe worth $350 as a way to show appreciation for what she does for the community through her job.
“I come from a family that paid it forward,” said Bridges. “Community service is strongly supported by our company and I have particularly enjoyed the chance to work with my team outside the store. It’s been awesome and doing activities together is sort of stepping into a new zone which is good for us.”
Anderson said the “Pamper the Principal” makeover was unexpected but greatly appreciated.
“It was definitely a big treat for me,” said Anderson, laughing. “I went to the store after they called me and was greeted by two ladies who were my personal shoppers for Monday morning. What they are doing for the students is awesome. To be chosen for this is such an honor. Being pampered for me was just icing on the cake and it made me feel special.”
Anderson indicated she also was excited about the mosaic and looked forward to getting the school art department to help with assembling the work. She said the 12-by-12-foot picnic tables would be located in a new picnic area in back of the school once an old building is torn down.
“Anytime you have people working as well as donating items we need, it shows support of our public schools at a time when they really need support,” added Anderson. “Education is a passion for school employees it means the world to us and to have this validated is important.”
According to Belk Vice President of Communications and Community Relations Jessica Graham, the company, its associates and vendors contributed more than $18 million to local communities during the past fiscal year. She said Belk corporate dollars funded $$6.2 million to more than 250 nonprofit organizations with a focus on education, breast cancer research and awareness and community strengthening.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.