Sam Platt looked forward to this year’s back-to-school celebration.
He and his band of good Samaritans, known as the Men of FIC, couldn’t wait to distribute backpacks full of school supplies to needy children in the southern portion of Wayne County.
Instead, the onset of COVID-19 altered the celebration.
Motivated by faith, integrity and character — hence the name FIC — the group came up with another solution. Platt, group President Al Southerland, Vernon Lee, Johnny Holloway and Herman McCullen decided to load the 500 backpacks into a trailer and make deliveries to five different schools.
The quartet dropped off the book bags at Brogden Middle School, Brogden Primary, Carver Elementary School, Mount Olive Middle School and North Duplin Elementary School.
“We are very thankful for the book bags and school supplies that were donated,” said Antoinette Ward, principal at Carver Elementary. “These supplies will be necessary to provide support for families being served by Carver Elementary.”
Platt said the celebration in the park started nine years ago.
Families attended the event and picked up supplies to help their children start the school year in a positive manner.
Local groups such as All the King’s Children, Bridge to Hope and First Pentecostal Church assisted the Men of FIC and sought donations from the community to purchase supplies.
“[I knew] we can be a blessing to the kids,” Platt said. “It’s a great, positive thing for the community and I just enjoy helping whenever we can. That’s what we’re all about, men working together for Christ and whenever we can see and find a need that we can satisfy, that’s what we like to do.”
Each stop left principals overwhelmed.
“It always means a lot to our students,” said NaTale Nelson, principal at Mount Olive Middle. “We can count on the Men of FIC each year and their support is absolutely invaluable. We know they are always looking out for the best interest in our students.
“Their support means the world to us.”
The troupe crossed the county line and made their final stop at North Duplin Elementary School. As they waited for teachers to bring out carts to load the bags, Platt wiped his brow.
He mentioned missing Southerland, who is home recovering from an illness.
“I wish Al was here,” he said.
As the temperature and humidity rose on what had started as an overcast morning, the Men of FIC unloaded their last set of book bags.
“I think that it’s really great that our school has a community that aids our students to make sure they have the school supplies they need for a successful year,” said Ann Hardy, principal of North Duplin Elementary.
“They’ve always been very good supporters of the school.”