Mount Airy Middle School was a hive of activity Thursday afternoon as the school’s Interact Club teamed up with other groups to load 1,000 backpacks with food for children in the Mount Airy City Schools district.
Interact joined forces with Surry Sunrise Rotary Club, Surry Community College Rotoract Club, Food Lion and the Clara B. Farlow Foundation.
This is the second year for the project, according to Dr. Kim Morrison, superintendent of Mount Airy City schools.
“People got so excited last year when we packed 550 backpacks for the middle school; today we’re going to do 1,000 for all four schools (in the school system),” Morrison said Thursday.
“Thank you all for helping us fill backpacks for our fellow students,” said Damian Harris, one of several students who spoke during a brief program before the packing got underway.
Damian explained that backpacks are handed out on Friday so students have something to eat over the weekend. They are filled with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food. He also said that 60% of students at the school receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Surry Sunrise Rotary sponsors the Interact Club at the school. According to Morrison, it is the only middle school to have an Interact Club within five or six counties. Morrison said students in the city’s school system are encouraged to perform service. Students who do 50 service hours each year from kindergarten to high school get a special seal on their diploma.
Morrison said it helps them to get into college and teaches leadership. “It’s not easy to teach leadership,” she said.
“They know they can feed their friends. They feel good about it. This is not sending food to China or Belize,” she said, although those efforts are also worthwhile. “But this is feeding the kid sitting next to them.”
Calissa Watson, a 13-year-old student at Mount Airy Middle, said she enjoyed helping those who are less fortunate. “I like giving back to the community, especially volunteering. It’s good to know we’re helping.”
Rondale Ratcliff, a retail specialist for Food Lion, said the company’s charitable giving program, called “Food Lion Feeds” has a goal of giving away 500 million meals by 2020 across its operating area.
“This is our second year working with Sunrise Rotary,” he said. “It’s one of our ways of giving back to the community. Mount Airy has always been good to us.”
Along with food for the backpacks, Ratcliff was accompanied by another retail specialist and store managers from all three Mount Airy Food Lion stores as well as Dobson, Pilot Mountain, Elkin and Rural Hall.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.