Fort Mill residents filled the historic Spratt building on Main Street with donations of food, clothing and supplies Monday. The donation drive, organized by the town of Fort Mill, honored the call to service by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We’ve been doing an honor of Dr. Martin Luther King in different ways by having ceremonies in the past,” Fort Mill events and media coordinator Caroline Hasty said. “This year, we decided through reaching out to the community and what their needs were, we found that this is an opportunity for us to give back and have a donation drive.”
Tables were stacked high with hats, coats and gloves, boxed and canned foods and a variety of toiletry items which will later be distributed to warming centers, soup kitchens and community care centers.
Fort Mill accounting specialist Phillip Aycock brought a few bags full of essential items, from toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo to boxes of nonperishable foods. He said he tries to donate whenever he sees a need, either through his church or through community projects like this one.
“I think that, as a part of a community, we all have to look out for each other and also help each other,” Aycock said. “Maybe people are going through a hard time or maybe people just need a helping hand – we’re there to always help.”
By mid-morning, Hasty was already pleased with the results of the donation drive. She said the Spratt building had become a hub for residents to give back, either in the form of supplies, or by signing up to donate their time to volunteer for nonprofit organizations. Even children, out of school for the federal holiday, dropped by to donate.
“One thing about Fort Mill, we’re a giving community . . . we have lots of people who want to give back, they want to belong, they want to participate,” Hasty said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to give back and to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Students devote time to ‘day of service’
ROCK HILL Although many college students slept in Monday morning to cap the three-day weekend, students from Winthrop University, Clinton College and York Technical College woke up bright and early to serve their community.
This year, Winthrop University’s annual day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day focused on beautifying the bathrooms at three Rock Hill schools. Through painting positive messages and artwork on the walls, the college students hoped to inspire self-esteem and respect.
Winthrop University volunteer and community services program director Laura Foster said more than 300 students participated in the project.
“It’s all about giving back to the community and making an impact,” she said. “It’s about serving on that day and not making it a day off.”
Foster said the project hits home for many freshman volunteers because it wasn’t too long ago when they walked the same halls.
“They understand how it was when they were in school,” she said. “I think they can relate and this is a good way for them to give back.”
Winthrop sophomore Nia Brown worked with a team of students at Rock Hill High School. On the wall of the girls’ restroom, she painted a female figure wearing a crown and flexing her biceps. She said the image showed female empowerment.
“We can make a difference no matter how small,” Brown said. “Just doing this painting will brighten people’s day when they come in and see it.”
On another wall, Winthrop alum Emily Daise painted the quote: “One woman can make a difference but together we can rock the world.”
“I just hope that (the girls) know that they can be whoever they want to be and achieve whatever they want to achieve in life,” Daise said.
Next door in the boys’ bathroom, Winthrop alum Devon Ford drew the silhouette of a group of guys, their arms resting on one another’s shoulders. Beside the image, painted the quote, “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“Today, there’s a lot of things going on with bullying,” Ford said. “So it’s good to show that even in the face of all that, you can combat that with camaraderie and banding together.”
Though the project was several months in the making, the culmination of all their effort peaked on Monday when the students painted the bathrooms in Belleview Elementary, Castle Heights Middle and Rock Hill High.
“We could have had the option to just stay in and be lazy but it’s good to pay homage to Martin Luther King Jr. by doing this service because that’s what he would have wanted,” Ford said. “He was a man of service and making sure everybody in the community had everything they needed.”
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org