Volunteers turn out to help at Knox

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 8, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Community members are making good on a promise to help revitalize Knox Middle School.
A group of about 100 volunteers showed up at the school Monday, one week after Cornerstone Church Pastor Bill Godair and a dozen church members toured the rundown campus.
“We’re really proud to be down here to help clean this school up because it’s needed it for quite some time,” church member Vernell Lee said.
Lee’s grandson Anthony Vaughters, a junior at Salisbury High School, attended Knox.
“I want to help out the church and improve the school,” he said.
Arriving at 4 p.m., volunteers divided into crews to work on sprucing up the outside of the school.
Godair said the volunteers were hoping to work until 8 p.m., but they ran out of paint and supplies by about 6:30 p.m. The materials were supplied by the school.
“We’re trying our best to keep a good attitude and spirit because ultimately it’s about the kids,” Godair said. “We ended up having about 127 people there, but we had three gallons of paint and I think we had two paint rollers.”
Godair said the volunteers were also disappointed they couldn’t do more work inside the buildings.
The school’s principal, Dr. James Davis, told Godair that he was going to request 20 gallons of paint for when the volunteers return today.
Church member Paula McCora, who chose to help out with the weeding, said she didn’t mind getting her hands dirty.
“I am definitely going to do whatever it takes to help out,” she said.
McCora, whose two sons attended Knox, said she’s been sending out Facebook messages to her friends to get more people involved in the beautification efforts.
“I think there are a lot of people that are willing to help out, we just need to get them here,” she said.
Church member Pamela Abernathy wielded her paint roller to cover faded blue panels underneath the windows with a vibrant coat of “Knox blue.”
“We think that children deserve a clean place, a good place to come and learn,” she said.
Abernathy said she also has a vested interest in getting the campus up to par.
“I have legal custody of my niece and she’s actually going to attend school here this year, so when I learned about the condition of the school I really had a special interest in wanting things to be good” she said.
Salisbury resident Kenneth Ford said when he realized the school needed some work he didn’t hesitate to chip in.
“For one, I have a son here and No. 2 because if we don’t do it who will look out for us.”
• • •
Kristen Zapata said she was inspired to help out after Knox teacher Joy Jenkins issued a plea for help during a recent Sunday service at Cornerstone.
“Hearing that, I knew that I wanted to help out,” she said. “Even though my child doesn’t go here, my daughter has friends who do.”
Zapata was willing to help out the very next day, but school system officials did not allow volunteers on the campus until Monday because of maintenence work that was already under way.
“School is about to start so we have to hurry,” she said. “I feel like a week has been wasted.”
Church member Charlene Catus said although Jenkins’ speech got her to the school, it’s what she saw that made her stay and help.
The school has chipping paint, discolored tiles and stained carpets. There have also been reports of rodent feces and insect infestations.
“It was just unbelievable,” Catus said.
• • •
Adults weren’t the only ones volunteering Monday. Children ranging in ages from four to 17 helped out.
Kasey Zapata, 10, Taylor Miller, 13 and Sydney Frick, 10, picked up trash throughout the campus.
“I wanted to help out the school because if it was my school I would want a nice place to go,” Taylor, a rising eighth-grader at China Grove Middle said.
Davis said seeing the young people there helping out gave him a renewed sense of hope for the future.
“Kids that have an interest in anything productive I just think is positive,” he said.
Godair said the youth were ready and willing to do their part.
“I think it’s great for kids to get out here and help,” he said. “I’m glad they have a servant’s heart.”
• • •
Volunteers will likely finish up work on the outside of the school from 4 to 8 p.m. today.
“With all the manpower we’ve got I really feel like after these two days we are going to be in good shape,” he said.
Davis said the school is still looking for additional mentors and tutors to work with students when school starts.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Davis at 704-633-2922 or davisjv@rss.k12.nc.us
“I think we’re on the right track,” Davis said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.