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Car wash to fund beach trip

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Friday, May 3, 2019

Imag­ine hav­ing never been to the beach, never play­ing in the sand and surf.

It is a re­al­ity for some Rocky Mount chil­dren — a re­al­ity that is about to change as res­i­dents come to­gether on Satur­day to hold a free car wash with do­na­tions go­ing to­ward help­ing less for­tu­nate chil­dren take their first trip to see the ocean and en­joy all that a day at the beach has to of­fer.

The car wash is set for 2-6 p.m. at Prid­gen Tire on Sun­set Av­enue hosted by Love Rocky Mount, the heart and brain child of busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive War­ren Daugh­tridge. He said his new pur­pose in life is heal­ing the city of the re­cent po­lit­i­cal strife and un­der­ly­ing racism with a goal of bring­ing city res­i­dents to­gether.

Love Rocky Mount is new, but it means busi­ness, said Johnny Cun­ning­ham, a prom­i­nent lo­cal con­trac­tor and founder of ReGroup 1, a char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tion that works to re­hab and re­store old run­down homes in low-in­come com­mu­ni­ties and cre­ate jobs for young men that in most cases have crim­i­nal records.

Cun­ning­ham said he went to the first Love Rocky Mount meet­ing in mid-March at Rocky Mount Mills and was amazed how peo­ple wanted to do some­thing pos­i­tive in the com­mu­nity.

Cun­ning­ham men­tioned in a con­ver­sa­tion on the group’s Face­book page that there were chil­dren in Rocky Mount who never had been to the beach.

“We have kids that have never felt hot sand be­tween their toes and salt wa­ter splash­ing on them,” Cun­ning­ham said.

In three days, 300 peo­ple joined in the on­line con­ver­sa­tion in how to get Rocky Mount chil­dren to the beach.

A com­mit­tee quickly formed and now 40-plus chil­dren are set to take a char­ter bus in June to Fort Ma­con near At­lantic Beach.

“This is all first-class all the way,” Cun­ning­ham said. “It’s an ed­u­ca­tional trip where these kids will get ex­po­sure to more than the world right around them. I re­mem­ber when the schools were in­te­grated and I was bused 40 min­utes away. My neigh­bor­hood was work­ing class. Every­one worked. Here I was rolling through neigh­bor­hoods with man­i­cured lawns and three-story brick houses. I saw that there’s more out there. It made me want to work to achieve my goals.

“That’s what the car wash is about,” he said. “It’s rais­ing money, but it’s about these kids earn­ing a seat on that bus to the beach. It’s sweat eq­uity. And learn­ing to work to­gether.”

Cun­ning­ham said the chil­dren live in the projects and do not of­ten see dif­fer­ent peo­ple work­ing to­gether — and here are peo­ple work­ing to help them go some­where spe­cial.

“Th­ese are fresh new peo­ple,” Cun­ning­ham said. “A who’s who of Rocky Mount tak­ing their time to help these kids get to the beach. Their hearts were tugged when they re­al­ized there were kids right here in Rocky Mount who have never seen the ocean. Th­ese are strangers who could not sit by and let it hap­pen.”

Chef Ja­mais Brown will have food with all pro­ceeds to be do­nated to the beach trip. The Blind Dog at Lowes will do­nate a por­tion of Satur­day pro­ceeds to the trip. The event also has a slew of cor­po­rate spon­sors.

Any­one who wants to help but can­not make the car wash event can make checks payable to S&P Law c/‚Äčo Re­group 1 and mail them to S&P Law, PO Box 981, Rocky Mount, NC 27802. Cash and checks also can be dropped off at S&P Law Firm at 874 Coun­try Club Road in Rocky Mount.

Credit card do­na­tions can be made by call­ing S&P at 252-443-2195.

Love Rocky Mount is just get­ting its feet wet with the car wash and beach trip. Back-to-school and other events are be­ing planned.

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