ROTC duo directs holiday drive

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DUDLEY — A special skill.

An ardent passion.

Time.

A pair of hands.

Whatever one has to offer, it can make a great impact on a person’s life.

Kayla Dearman and Cyerra Johnson have each experienced that generosity first hand.

Dearman’s heart dropped to her stomach one day when she learned her dad had lost his job. Finances became tight and forced cutbacks in the family budget.

An active member of Southern Wayne’s Junior Air Force ROTC, the soft-spoken Dearman wondered if there be enough to pay her cadet fee?

“Someone stepped up and paid it for me,” Dearman said.

Just two years ago, one of Johnson’s family members who lived out of state lost everything in a house fire. She organized a clothes drive with her friends and sent the family several packages.

“They were so grateful and it touched our hearts … was a great feeling,” said Johnson, who is also a member of the SW Junior AFROTC.

The experiences resonated with both.

And not surprisingly, they’re giving back to the community during the holiday season. The two have grabbed the reins for the annual Christmas Toy and Food Drive, organized by the ROTC program.

“Through ROTC we get so many families who reach out asking for help,” Dearman said. “We do have different clubs that do help throughout the year. It’s pretty good to be able to have that connection where we know we’re helping people … we’re not just teenagers going to school and playing around, we’re actually in the community doing things.”

Dearman and Johnson said the ROTC is accepting unwrapped toys, turkeys, canned goods and boxed foods to assist 10 families in the Southern Wayne community. Donation boxes have been placed at Dollar General on N.C. Highway 111, and Dearman said she plans to speak with other businesses about participating in the drive.

Families who need aid may obtain an application through email from an ROTC member, and must return it by Dec. 10. Face-to-face contact is limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Monetary donations are also accepted.

The applications will be reviewed and the families selected will receive their holiday cheer around the week of Christmas.

“It honestly feels so good to us because like me and her we’ve always loved helping people,” Johnson said. “We see somebody that needs a little bit of hope, we go and try to [do] our best to do whatever we can. It’s just a good feeling for us and knowing that we’re finally giving back.”

To donate or receive an application, please call either 919-330-8654 or 919-273-8581.

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