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Posted: October 2, 2009 12:30 a.m.

BB&T donates $4,000 to local non-profits

Lighthouse Project helps school event, thrift store

Gabriel Khouli/

Food bank: Shirley Smith, Scott White, Brenda Davis and David Cleveland stand beside boxes of groceries that BB&T donated to Repairers of the Breach as part of BB&T's first Lighthouse Project.

CEO Shirley Smith has always thought of Repairers of the Breach as a lighthouse of hope in the community, so it’s only fitting that BB&T chose to donate money and time to Repairers as part of its first Lighthouse Project.

Because of the economic downturn, BB&T decided to step up its volunteerism and philanthropy and had each local branch choose one or two non-profits to help. The Covington Branch chose to help Repairers and chose to volunteer and buy supplies for the Back 2 School Block Party in July, said Scott White, BB&T senior vice president.

"BB&T wanted to have a humanitarian impact and wanted to help organizations that really needed that help," White said. "We talked to the employees and they decided that helping out at those two organizations would have the most impact."

He said they purchased more than $2,000 of school supplies, two full truck beds worth, and local branch managers also volunteered their time to help people register for the census.

David Cleveland, BB&T business service officer, worked with Repairers, because he has worked with the store and Smith many times in the past.

"We’re a big advocate for Repairers. My wife and I adopted a family from Repairers of the Breach, because we see how desperate families are. We see the kids and how in need they are," Cleveland said. "I know Shirley has a heart for helping."

Each BB&T employee volunteered two hours of his time to help clean and organize the thrift store, and the company donated more than $2,000 for groceries to restock Repairers food pantry.

"It took us two and a half hours at the Food Depot to spend that money. It’s amazing how far $2,000 goes," Cleveland said.

Smith said it was literally shop-till-you-drop.

"It’s been a great help. Non-profits need all the help they can get. We’re big in the community, because we’re helping families that have lost their jobs, families like you and I," Smith said. "A lot of people have had to drop their pride to come in here and ask for help."

Smith said that the recession has begun reaching into the middle classes and a turn around isn’t expected any time soon.

"Our Christmas Program is coming up and we’ll have 300 to 400 kids come here to get toys and clothes and food. That’s where your heart goes out to those little children," she said. "We’re helping 10 families a day with clothing and food."

Cleveland said he supports Repairers because they don’t just give a hand out, they give a hand up, especially to the homeless families to whom Repairers provide temporarily housing.

"Repairers of the Breach isn’t just a handout. The people in those homes have to come back and volunteer and Shirley makes sure they stay involved," Cleveland said.

Smith believes in helping so much she’s even taken a family into her big home.

"God would say, Shirley, ‘You need to share’," she said.

White said BB&T employees have done nearly 60 hours of volunteer work over the past two months, in addition to the company’s normal outreach efforts. He said the company may do another special volunteer project in the future, if the need is still there.

Smith said she is grateful for BB&T’s efforts, but many more people need help, so she invites others in the community to donate anything they can spare. Repairers accepts clothing, furniture, dry, refrigerated and frozen food, appliances and children’s toys.

"It’s very appropriate that BB&T chose us. I’ve always said that we’ve been a lighthouse in this community," Smith said. "God put us here and we’ll stay here until he’s ready to move us."

Repairers is having a benefit Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with food, singing, a special thrift store sale and a drawing for prizes. The event is open to everyone.

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