Community Alliance Coordinates Effort

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Volunteer "elves" make personalized packages for each of the shoes to be distributed at PES.(courtesy photo)

Like Santa's elves, members of the Community Alliance of Piggot were bustling around Hitts Chapel Church on a recent Thursday evening. Beside the Backpack Giveaway, held before school started this fall, the group's latest project for the year has been their most ambitious. Coordinating first responders from local agencies, and working with the Convoy of Hope Rural Compassion program, they were able to provide a free pair of shoes to each student at the local elementary school.

The seeds for what became the Community Alliance started with a sermon the summer of 2015 on Serving Where You Are. The inspiration came upon local teachers Penny Toombs and Raquel Crawford at lunch one day--why not bring a group together to provide community outreach to Piggott?

The organization is a conglomerate of various members representing several churches in the area. Their planning is simple, if one member has inspiration for a project to serve the community, it is emailed to the other members. The idea, possibilities to make it happen and what resources can be used are discussed at the next meeting. The group meets once a month, although there is no president or chairman, nor any other titled officer position. As the ladies said, "everyone is equal. No glory for just one person."

Their first project was after the initial organizational meeting in August of last year, as volunteers distributed bottled water to the various workers at the Clay County Fair. The water was donated by the churches. The next effort was the Backpack Giveaway, held before school started. Again, donations were contributed by the churches, which were assigned specific grades with appropriate school supplies included. At Halloween, the group participated in Trunk or Treat festivities on the square. To raise funds to help defray costs for future projects, a bake sale was held last month in conjunction with the annual chili fund raiser at Piggott First United Methodist.

The current project was sponsored by a grant through Rural Compassion which partners with rural churches to enhance their presence in helping strengthen the churches' communities. Rural Compassion is a branch of Convoy of Hope, a non-profit organization that works with disasters, community outreach events, and nutritional education throughout the world.

On Monday, Dec. 19, the project reached its fruition as the shoes were distributed at the local campus. And, as they had with the chores of getting measurements for each of the children, local first responders handed-out the shoes.

"We want these kids to know that first responders, law enforcement and firemen and such are their friends, they need to know they can trust them when it counts and this is a great way to acquaint them," a spokesman for the effort noted.

After the shoes were delivered, the volunteers gathered at Hitts Chapel to prepare them for distribution, each with a personalized package with the student's name.

For Toombs, Crawford and the many others who made the effort possible the reward is clear.

"My heart is full of love, joy, and appreciation at the response shown to the group by the various donors, volunteers, and the Piggott community," Toombs offered.

Volunteers and input is always sought by members of the Community Alliance, and those wanting to contact them

may email them at piggottcommunityalliance@gmail.com

"We're not sure what other projects will be planned for 2017, but we;re certain the Backpack Giveaway will become an annual event," she concluded.

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