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Sheriff, NBA star help area students

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Eric McKnight, left, of the Rocky Mount Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, helps Trustice Smith, 10, with a new backpack as Ta'Ziyah Smith, 9, selects a backpack on Friday at the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office.

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Monday, August 19, 2019

You could hear the disappointment in Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson’s voice as about 25 volunteers, many in the uniform of the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office, awaited the arrival of the first person at Friday’s collaboration to help some of Edgecombe County’s less fortunate school students.

“You can try to help folks, but you can’t make them come,” Atkinson said.

Despite the fact that almost 20 minutes into the effort, no one had been through the parking lot to either drop off donations or pick up supplies, Atkinson headed toward the volunteers to cheer them on.

“Ya’ll be ready,” he said. “They’re coming.”

Sure enough, over the next half-dozen minutes or so, the driveway started to fill up with vehicles.

“What do you want on your hot dog?” a deputy called out to a donor, adding, “It’s the least we can do for you taking your time to come out here to donate.”

The Sheriff’s Office teamed up with the Montrezl Harrell Youth Foundation and the Brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. to collect much-needed supplies for needy students — and to hand some items out, as well.

Harrell, who played high school basketball at North Edgecombe High School before becoming a Louisville Cardinal en route to the NBA, where he is now with the Los Angeles Clippers, provided brand new bookbags for the youngsters through his foundation, based in Rocky Mount.

In addition, there were shirts and sweatshirts and other items to help anyone who needed it.

And as the stream of vehicles grew from one to several and then to a steady stream, there were much-needed items collected — some going right back out moments later.

As the vehicles were lined up, Atkinson was going from one driver’s window to the next, thanking someone in one vehicle while asking the next what they needed.

“Everywhere we see need in our county, we’re going to try and help,” he said. “There is no reason to not try and help and we’re going to do that.”

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