Back-to-school giveaway a success

Published 10:11 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

Suffolk children received free school supplies, books, clothing and food during a back-to-school giveaway on Saturday.

The giveaway was held at the Salvation Army by the family of C. Faye Tillery, a beloved former Parks and Recreation employee who died of cancer about 17 years ago.

Nearly 170 children received a book bag full of supplies, a donated book and lunch, Vonda Holman-Carter, Tillery’s niece.

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The first 64 also received a toiletry bag with toothpaste, a toothbrush, a washcloth and a bar of soap.

Students receive notebooks and other school supplies.

“We are excited about celebrating five years of the giveaway next year,” Holman-Carter stated in an email.

Crayons, markers, notebooks, glue and other necessities were also among the items handed out.

Some children were also able to pick out brand-new clothes, volunteer Stacey Pitts said.

“I liked what it was about,” Pitts said. “I live here in the city of Suffolk, and I’m trying to get involved in different things.”

Pitts said her friend’s husband is a relative of the Tillery family and got involved through them.

“I like that they’re trying to give back to the community and keep their aunt’s name and her memory alive,” Pitts said.

Pitts said the recipients were grateful for the outreach.

“Everybody that came through that line was so grateful,” she said.

Donnie Gambrell, a nephew of Faye Tillery, said the event honors his aunt’s heart for helping others, which is something that extends to their entire family.

“She would just help people,” he said. “That’s just how we were raised. It’s nice to give back. It’s better to give than to receive. The best we can do is be an example of that.”

Gambrell said this was the first year he was able to participate directly, and he enjoyed it.

“You can’t help but have a good time when you’re doing things that are good,” he said.

He added that about 25 lunches were left over, and the family drove around and gave them away after the event.

Pitts noted that the Tillery family also gives scholarships, for which a fundraising banquet is held every April.

“I encourage businesses and people who want to be a blessing to give,” Pitts said. “If you’re able to help, reach out … and see what you can do.”