Belk employees giving back at Ketron Elementary

Nick Shepherd • Jun 15, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Employees from one local company volunteered at Ketron Elementary on Thursday to give back to the community.

Belk employees volunteered their time to help build a picnic table, two bookshelves, magic carpet squares for the children to sit and read and a mural for the elementary school.

“It’s basically Belk of Kingsport’s way of getting involved with the community and giving back to the community,” said store manager for Belk in Kingsport, Farrah Henry. “We have many associates that are affected with this school specifically. We have associates who have children who go to this school.”

The volunteering at Ketron is a part of the 125th anniversary celebration of Belk. Belk is having a series of events throughout southern states to say thank you to all the customers who have helped them over the last 125 years. The make-overs for schools started on March 10 and will run to July 12.

Wendall Smith, principal of Ketron elementary, was pleased to see the volunteers.

“It’s a great thing for us,” Smith said. “This year will be our second year, so we’re kind of a blank canvas when it comes to creating presentations for the school and making it look aesthetically better.”

Belk teamed up with Hands On Nashville for the Kingsport project. Hands On is a national organization that helps recruit, educate and coordinates a network of volunteers. This is the first time Hands On has worked in the Northeast Tennessee area.

“We contract and work with corporations that want to coordinate corporate service projects,” said Special project coordinator with Hands On Nashville, Alix Brody-Waite. “We are working with Belk to coordinate projects in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.”

Along with volunteering at the school, Belk employees also did a book drive in which they collected around 740 books. Brody-Waite said the book donation in Kingsport was the most substantial donation she had seen so far.

The Belk store in Kingsport likes to be involved in the community with food drives or disaster relief, Henry said.

Overall, the employees were happy to volunteer their time to help the school and that Belk was supportive from the beginning.

“We think it’s pretty awesome,” Henry said. “Usually it’s us pulling something together and the fact that Belk has taken on the initiative and given us the resources and time to do that and allowing our associates and asking all of our associates to be a part of the bigger picture, really says a lot for Belk and their involvement in the community... This is the start, I hope, of many more involvements in the community here.”

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