Plenty of giveways at East Spencer Community Day

Published 12:10 am Sunday, August 14, 2022

EAST SPENCER — If the fact that 250 hot dogs disappeared by the time the town’s Community Day ended is any indication, this year’s event was well attended.

Saturday morning, with a blush of fall cool in the air, East Spencer opened its 11th annual Community Day. The first year, according to Mayor Barbara Mallett, the event was billed as a ‘clean up day’ for the local park, and food and music were offered as incentives. Since then, she said, the event has expanded “because we have made it a give-away day. No sales are allowed at this event. Only give-aways of information or supplies.”

The mid-day activity, which runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., hosts two types of participants: organizations who offer services of some kind, from educational services to civic, social or health groups, and organizations who offer free items, from food to school supplies.

Mallett, excited at this year’s participation, said she is “so very pleased with the way this event has grown, but I do want people to know that this is for everyone in Rowan County,” she said. “We hope to provide information and resources to anyone and everyone who needs them. And at the end of the day, we don’t want to have anything left. So I hope people come and fill their bags with food and school supplies and good information.”

This year, the town itself bought 11 pallets of food to give away, and Grateful Heart Community Service of the Grateful Heart Church brought a van stuffed to the roof with school supplies donated by Walmart to give away. This year is the first time the church, under the guidance of Pastor Johnny Morgan, has brought the supplies, but volunteers say it will not be the last.

The event is staffed by volunteers and members of the board of aldermen and both the police and fire chiefs attended.

“It’s a beautiful day to be outside this morning, to begin with,” said Robbin McEntire, who has volunteered for “five or six years” at the event “because it’s a good thing to do.” She got attendees to sign up for bags to gather information and donations from any or all of the participating organizations, and offered each a cooling neck cloth to help keep temperatures more comfortable.

DJ Shenita Russell, who is a guidance counselor in Winston-Salem during the day but has been spinning tunes in her down time for 25 years, said, “I absolutely love coming to this town to participate. Growing up in Salisbury, this was the place to come, going up and down Long Street and seeing everybody you knew, and it still has that welcoming feeling.” She picked up the DJ bug from her father, Floyd A. Kerr III, and has been participating in Community Day for about four years.

Some of the education-based participants included Essie Academy, a private K-8 school in Salisbury that has space available for 50 students, with current enrollment at 33.

Principal Latisha Feamster said the school has a number of special classes including Spanish, financial literacy and communicating with children in Kenya, Africa. She noted anyone who is interested in finding out more about the school can call 704-232-5282 or email essiesschool@gmail.com.

Crosby Scholars, a free program for students in grades 6-11 enrolled in Rowan County schools, offers college preparation in a variety of ways, from readiness workshops and social and emotional development to test preparation and college visits. Participants must meet two requirements — they must perform at least two hours of community service per year, and they must participate in at least one workshop or academy a year. Those enrolled prior to their senior year qualify for a one-on-one mentor as they prepare to apply to and select colleges. Funded through Good Will, the program started in 2013 and this year, they have purchased a data program that will allow them to track participants from the start of their participation through college and beyond, to help determine the success of the program and what additional needs should be met.

James Davis, the new director of Communities in Schools for Rowan County, was on hand to provide visitors with information about the program, designed to connect community services outside of schools with the students in the schools who need them. He was also letting people know the program needs volunteers, to participate in the schools in various ways or to act as mentors to students in the schools throughout the county. Anyone who is interested can go to cisrowan.org/for-volunteers .

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