MARTINSVILLE – Denise Handy, a guidance counselor at Patrick Henry Elementary School, recently witnessed a selfless act of kindness from a fifth grade student.
It all started when the school announced that each class would be collecting goods for both the Community Storehouse and the Salvation Army.
While both recipients of the collected items serve needy families throughout the Martinsville-Henry County community, they each make a notable imprint on the area.
The Community Storehouse, located at 4201 Greensboro Rd. in Ridgeway, serves impoverished people in multiple ways.
The food pantry – stocked by community donations – often houses meats, canned goods, shelf-stable foods and a variety of perishable items for those who would otherwise go without dinner on the table.
The nonprofit also helps children in area schools with a backpack program. At the end of each week, the Community Storehouse provides snacks and kid-friendly meals to students who exhibit a need and rely on school breakfasts and lunches as their main source of nutrients.
Getting people get back on track, the organization also helps clients find temporary jobs and informs individuals about job fairs taking place in the area.
The Salvation Army, located at 603 Memorial Blvd. S. in Martinsville, also helps people in need in the community.
The organization provides food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
The local branch of the organization also holds a community meal three times a week and serves as a warming shelter for those without a home in extreme temperatures.
When Holden Hendricks, a student in Pamela Draper-Cabiness’s class, heard about the two drives benefiting the local nonprofits, the fifth grader approached Handy with a special request.
Hendricks offered to provide an incentive for his peers to boost the number of donations going to the Salvation Army.
He proposed the idea of a pizza party for the class that brought the most canned goods to school – and offered to pay for the celebratory meal.
“He uses his own money he wins from karate tournaments,” Handy said.
Inspired by the child’s selfless act, Handy also created an incentive for the other food drive.
“Since I knew that the Community Storehouse was struggling and that they serve our students in need with the backpack program, I wanted to collect food items for them as well,” Handy said. “I offered the class that brought in the most non-canned food items an ice cream sundae party as an incentive.”
As donations started to trickle in for each organization, Handy helped keep the drive at the forefront of students’ minds throughout the collection period.
“As I went into the classrooms daily to teach guidance, I taught students about kindness and compassion in relation to helping our community, encouraging them to bring in items,” Handy said.
Students and staff at PHES collected 1,109 cans of food for the Salvation Army and 450 food items for the Community Storehouse’s backpack program.
“Holden’s class did not win the pizza party, but did win the ice cream sundae party for bringing in the most items for the Community Storehouse,” Handy said.
Donna LaPrad’s third grade class and Jamie Earnest’s first grade class tied for the top spot for bringing the most donations to benefit the Salvation Army.
“Holden will provide the pizza for one class and the school will provide pizza for the other winning class, since there were two winners,” Handy said. “Holden was willing to provide pizza for both classes. He is a prime example of ‘not self, but others.’”