Last Friday, local media outlets buzzed with breaking news of a lockdown at Ashley Park PreK-8 School in Charlotte. Faculty, staff, students and visitors were asked to confine themselves to classrooms, prompted by the discovery of a gun in a student’s backpack.
In the midst of this stressful situation, a dedicated group of corporate volunteers continued their work to beautify the Ashley Park campus before, during and after the lockdown.
Belk is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. As part of the commemoration of this milestone, the Charlotte-based department store chain is working to engage all 23,000 of its employees in 125 Days of Service. From March 11 through July 12, Belk associates are volunteering to enhance the educational environment at more than 250 Title I elementary schools across the company’s 16-state footprint.
Belk is working with Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, to make this happen. As the local affiliate of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, Hands On Charlotte is coordinating service projects for associates from Belk stores in Gastonia, Pineville, Charlotte, Concord, Durham, Raleigh and Cary, and for those from the Belk Store Services (BSS) corporate office.
Nearly 100 associates from the BSS Feminine Apparel division, led by Executive VP Jacque Hall, had signed up for school improvement projects at Ashley Park on Friday. The first 30 or so of these volunteers were wrapping up their morning shift when the internal lockdown was announced at about 11:30.
The situation was brought under control fairly quickly, thanks to established procedures implemented by experienced law enforcement and school officials including Ashley Park Principal Tonya Kales, the 2012-2013 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Principal of the Year. This swift resolution allowed the Belk projects to continue with minimal interruption.
After being on lockdown for less than 45 minutes, Belk morning shift volunteers (who helped students paint their handprints in hallways and prepped the teachers’ lounge for painting) were cleared to leave campus shortly after noon. Second shift volunteers, many of whom had already begun to arrive when the lockdown began, were all assigned to outdoor tasks (landscaping, building planters); their work continued on schedule. The lockdown was lifted at 2:00 pm, and those in the final shift completed their tasks (building/sanding/staining picnic tables, finishing teachers’ lounge painting) ahead of time.
In the end, the quick and decisive actions of the police and school leadership diffused a potentially lethal situation. The determination of the Belk associates to complete their volunteer service in spite of the day’s dramatic events, however, is truly admirable. A tradition of active community involvement is a hallmark of Belk’s corporate culture, and the perseverance of the Belk associates who volunteered at Ashley Park last Friday is a perfect example.
Hands On Charlotte is proud to work with and to be associated with such devoted corporate citizens as the ladies and gentlemen of Belk. On behalf of a grateful community, we salute you for your service.
Hands On Charlotte