Thursday, November 23, 2017

Strangers moved to kindness for a rural VA middle school

After I spoke at North Fork Middle School in Quicksburg, VA, on 10/30/17, I was given permission to share a snapshot of their story.

This led to a not-random act of kindness, thanks to Becky Durfee, a friend I've had since grade school. I'll let her tell it:

While mindlessly scanning Facebook, I saw Marc's description of a school district, just two hours from my home, where some of the kids live in houses with dirt floors. He also mentioned that the teachers in that middle school use their own money to bring those kids food on Thanksgiving.
I couldn't get that post out of my head; the image of dirt floors troubled me for days. While driving to work one morning, I decided I would get the name of the contact person Marc used and make a contribution. But then it hit me: I teach large lectures at Virginia Commonwealth University. I have 300 students. If each student donated a quarter—an amount they wouldn't even miss—that would add up to $75, which could easily provide a deserving family with a warm Thanksgiving meal.
The next day, I brought a bucket to class and read Marc's Facebook post to the students. I encouraged them to donate "an amount they wouldn't notice." I applied no pressure. I offered no extra credit. I assured no judgement. I simply allowed students to anonymously drop money into the bucket on their way in or out of class. Two weeks later, I had nearly $300.
However, it was bigger than that. Two of my students brought this situation to the attention of their sororities, who agreed to adopt North Fork Middle School as a cause. They will continue to collect donations in the form of money and supplies, and they have agreed to become pen pals with the kids. Several other students who said they couldn't afford to donate money asked if they could also be pen pals. One student asked if it was okay to be a pen pal to multiple students. Another young man in my class relayed this story to his coworkers, who are in the process of taking up a collection. That endeavor isn't over; the funds raised from that will be used to supply the kids with gifts for Christmas.
The young woman in the upper right below had an event sponsored by her sorority where the price of admission was either a canned good, a toiletry item, a toy, or a school supply for the kids at Quicksburg. I offered to deliver anything she collected for Quicksburg and she said, "I hope you have a big car." 
clockwise from upper left: Daniela Quiroga, Chasity Newsome, 
Peter Kledaras (with Becky), Kiara Porter
When my best friend heard about what my students had done, she decided to adopt a local family for Thanksgiving.
It just keeps growing.
And it started with a simple Facebook post.

Here is the story from the perspective of my contact at the school, and my friend, Melissa Harrell:

Who knew that on October 30, 2017, a visit from Marc Tyler Nobleman would change North Fork Middle School.
During the break between the school day presentations and the evening Literacy Night Event, Marc spent time with myself and a few teachers volunteering for that night. Through conversation Marc learned of the poverty status and hardships many of our students face on a daily basis, and what we as a staff do with our time and personal money to help them. It is not done for publicity, it is done out of love for our students.
Marc shared this story on Facebook. His friend Rebecca Durfee, a professor at VCU, contacted me with wishes to help out. Through that initial contact, we now have VCU "Angels" helping our kids through donations of needed items and becoming pen pals. I told my mom about this wonderful positive experience last week, and she said it best, "God puts people in the right places at the right time."
We are beyond humbled and so appreciative of these students willing to go the extra mile beyond what Professor Durfee first proposed. Thanks to Marc, Rebecca, and the students at VCU for making lives of NFMS students better.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I am in tears and still in awe of the wonderful random act of kidness and how it has caused an amazing chain reaction.