Students step up at SOTW

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saturday, Beaufort County boys and girls will be out in force at Smoke on the Water, but unlike the masses coming to chow down on barbecue and chili, they’ll be working.
It’s all part of Make a Difference Day, the largest day of community service every year. For more than 20 years, millions of volunteers worldwide have used their time, talent and money to create change on a given October day. This year, the Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club, as well as volunteers from Southside High School, will be helping out down on the waterfront.
“We asked (our children) who was important to them in the community,” said Walter Lanham, marketing director of the Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club. “A few mentioned police officers and firemen and their teachers at school. We all decided together to design their own cards (for these people).”
Recipients will include employees in the public sector as well as patients at local nursing homes. McDonald’s donated $200 for card supplies and will donate lunch to the Boys & Girls Club volunteers Saturday. According to Lanham, when Washington Noon Rotary, organizer of Smoke on the Water, found out what the club was doing, they offered the club a free vendor’s spot on the waterfront.
Lanham expects about 18 club members from the Washington and Belhaven units to participate. Coming from the other side of the river, students from Southside High School have volunteered to help prepare and serve barbecue to the many pulled-pork lovers visiting the waterfront this weekend.
“Our kids are volunteering left and right,” said Chynna Bonner, Southside’s guidance counselor. “Something just lit their fire and they are all about volunteering.”
Bonner set up teams of student volunteers for the Beaufort County Arts Council’s BoCO Music Festival last April and the North Carolina Symphony’s performance last month. Since then, she said, she hasn’t had trouble getting students to donate their time and effort — a sign-up sheet for Smoke on the Water put out at 1:30 p.m. one day was full of names by the next.
“I think they’ve found their niche,” Bonner said.
The volunteers will join others participating in Make a Difference Day in Farmville, beautifying a school playground; and in Tarboro, planting 67 azaleas donated by WRAL-TV at Edgecombe Technical Institute’s campus.
Both Lanham and Bonner said their volunteers are excited about being a part of Smoke on the Water.
“It’ll be good to have the kids out there and showing their faces — getting them in the groove to be good citizens,” Lanham said.