Student and volunteerism Hand in Hand

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

Nine years ago, Lois Nix was in transition. A retired teacher and active member of her Tabernacle Baptist Church, Nix had been volunteering in her granddaughter’s classroom when her pastor encouraged church members to find new ways to serve the community.

“I think I have found our next church project,” Nix told the pastor later. “I saw firsthand the significant unmet needs of students — things like a daily snack or essential classroom supply, or disposable diapers in the special needs classroom.”

She could not ignore these needs, and her lifestyle of community service motivated her to respond.

Soon after, the Hand in Hand ministry was formed to address unmet student needs at the six public schools in the Swannanoa Valley. The ministry is manned by 15 volunteers from Valley churches. In nine years, it has given six schools more than $150,000.

School life brings all sorts of expenses that can be hard on families. Field trips, graduation, prom, sports supplies, warm coats and daily snacks are extras for some. So are the long-awaited yearbook or the class photograph. These important activities and memorabilia make positive school experiences for students, but for some, they are financially out of reach.

Working closely with school counselors and social workers, Hand in Hand identifies needs at each school. It conducts six community fundraisers annually.

Its volunteers makes all the food for the dinner fundraisers, buying the ingredients with their own money to allow money raised to go to the schools. Just recently at an October fundraiser planning meeting, Nix had four pots of chili and soup promised “in no time at all,” she said. “It warms my heart to be part of this wonderful group.”

In August, a huge school supply drive was organized in partnership with several local businesses, churches and the Sourwood Festival. Collection containers were packed full. “We had six vehicles filled full to take to the schools,” Nix said.

As is often the case with volunteer efforts, the benefit to the volunteer is a hidden blessing. “It has been wonderful to make new friends from other churches,” Nix said. “To see the willingness of others to help so generously is amazing. I know God gave this opportunity to us. I never tire of it year after year, and I will do this every year I am physically able.”

For more, contact Nix at 669-7868.

Hand In Hand fundraisers

  • Dinner from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 16 at Grove Stone Baptist Church, Swannanoa before the Owen High football game. Cost is $5 for chili or vegetable soup and sides.
  • Thanksgiving smoked turkeys. Preorder (669-7868) and pick up from 1-2 p.m. Nov. 24 at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Black Mountain. Cost is $35.