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Belk workers help give schools a makeover

For the first time, Richard Carter spent a day with his co-workers sweating outside the office.

He volunteered alongside fellow Belk employees building new park benches at Reid Park Academy in west Charlotte on Friday.

“It’s been nice to leave your job for a few hours and do something like this,” said Carter, a fragrances planner. “It’s fun to give something back to the community.”

The improvements are part of the company’s regional campaign to celebrate its 125th anniversary with 125 days of service projects dedicated to improving conditions at Title I schools.

To mark the end of the campaign, more than 200 volunteers from Charlotte-based Belk headquarters gathered at Reid Park Academy to build park benches, plant trees, paint murals and clean the teacher’s lounge.

Reid Park Academy Principal Mary Sturge told the volunteers their work would help transform an annex building at the school into a spot for parents to get information about community services.

“You may feel that you played just a little part,” she said, “but your little part and your little seed is not just changing a child’s life, but transforming families.”

Jessica Graham, a Belk spokeswoman, said this is the first time Belk has organized a companywide community service project.

“For the kids in the schools to see that people do care … it really makes a difference in that child’s success,” Graham said.

Since March 11 when the project began, 23,000 Belk employees participated in improving more than 220 schools in the 16 states were Belk is located, including 11 in Charlotte, Graham said.

Other projects consisted of building bookshelves and donating books to the schools, she said. Principals of the schools were offered personal makeovers, too.

Other Charlotte schools that were honored include: Hornets Nest, Pinewood, Montclaire, Steele Creek, Lingerfeldt, Sterling and Winecoff elementary schools.

Belk partnered with international nonprofit Points of Light to facilitate the effort.

“We’re impacting the learning environment and giving kids the chance to be more productive citizens,” said Eric Law, executive director of Hands On Charlotte, the local affiliate of Points of Light.

Crampton: 704-358-5112; Twitter: @liz_crampton
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