It takes a community

Published 9:25 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2018

To the editor:

On Saturday, April 28, 2018, Oakland Elementary School was scheduled to have a car wash to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. We were scheduled to have the event at 7-Eleven on Godwin Boulevard across from Sentara Obici Hospital.

Somehow, the event was double-booked, and our organizer and Relay for Life team leader, Mrs. Holly Wulfekuhle, and her first volunteers were stunned to see a youth boys’ basketball team setting up at the same location.

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Mrs. Wulfekuhle, some Oakland teachers and parent volunteers began calling other stores to see whether or not we could relocate. Unfortunately, this was to no avail, and we were starting to feel the beginnings of panic as we knew students were soon going to be dropped off or coming with parents to assist.

One of our parents noted to me that the manager of Dollar Tree was bringing his car to the 7-Eleven to get his car washed by the basketball team. I approached Mr. Marco and, after explaining our quandary, asked him if we might have the car wash at his store. Mr. Marco said he would need to check with his boss and tried to reach his supervisor. After being unable to get in contact, he agreed to take a chance and let us use the hose outlets in the back of his establishment.

We cheerfully made our way to the Dollar Tree only to discover that there was an attachment needed to turn on the water. While our organizers were in the store talking about this next problem, two customers overheard and offered to assist. One kind woman thought she had the proper tool in her vehicle and another gentleman, Leon, who worked in irrigation, offered to get a tool from his car and attempt to turn on the water. The woman found she did not have the needed tool but offered for us to come to the Tractor Supply and share the location with her 4-H group’s event if were unable to get the water turned on at Dollar Tree. Fortunately, Leon was able to turn on the water and even left the tool he used with us.
In this day and time, it is easy to feel isolated and to lose hope when confronted with roadblocks.

However, with the help of Suffolk’s surrounding, supportive community (including students’ relatives, teachers, and even one woman that left the shopping center to pick her husband up and then returned to have their car washed as she promised to a student) it was possible for Oakland to have a profitable car wash and raise almost $500 for Relay for Life. Sometimes, you just need a little (in this case a lot of) help from your community!

Melissa Phillips
Oakland Elementary School teacher