Belk's Days of Service celebration kicks off at Hazelwood Elementary

By Caroline Klapper | Apr 12, 2013
Photo by: Caroline Klapper Belk employee Stephen Savage works on building a picnic table as one of the volunteer projects at Hazelwood Elementary.

Belk is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2013, but instead of focusing that celebration only within the Belk stores, the company is taking it out into the communities it serves with 125 Days of Service.

The Waynesville store location is no exception and this week, store associates volunteered to spend some time at Hazelwood Elementary working on several projects for the school.

“They wanted to give back to the communities where their stores are as well as give back to the customers and their associates,” said Terry Rissland, Belk store manager in Waynesville.

Rissland, along with nine other Belk employees, spent several hours helping to build bookshelves, a picnic table and paint educational and inspirational paintings, which will make up a mural in the school. Volunteers will also be returning to make “reading squares,” where children can sit and read in classrooms.

The 125 Days of Service runs from March 10 to July 12 in communities where Belk stores are located all across the South.

Belk is working in partnership with Points of Light, an organization that finds volunteer opportunities in communities, to focus on doing makeovers in local schools.

At the Waynesville store, there were more volunteers than the projects at Hazelwood required, but Rissland said it was good to see so many associates eager to give of their time.

“More signed up than we could take, which is a nice problem to have,” she said with a laugh.

As to why Belk created the Days of Service, Rissland said she thinks it’s basically a way to show gratitude.

“It’s a thank you for the community. They just wanted to thank the customers for shopping with us,” she said. “It’s a great cause.”

Associate Manager Jeremy London, who previously worked at a store in Asheville, said he joined the volunteer crew because he thought it would be a great way to get to know the community and his fellow employees better.

“It’s been really fun, and this is a great way to get to know everyone,” he said.

For Belk associate Lynn Lasley, the volunteer work was helping with something that matters to her. As the mother of an elementary school-aged child, she knows how important community involvement can be for the school and the children.

“I just think it’s cool we can serve the community and help the kids,” she said, as she painted. “It’s a different side of Belk. It’s more than just a store.”

At Hazelwood Elementary, Lead Teacher Ann Trader said the staff is always looking for ways to foster relationships between the school and the community, and the Days of Service event was the perfect opportunity to do that.

“They’re willing to take time to come in here and make these things for us. It means a lot,” she said.

The shelves, table and paintings will serve the school well and remind the students that people in the community care about them.

“Our students always appreciate when others come in and share and become part of their lives and what they’re doing,” she said. “They recognize and appreciate it.”

For more information about the 125 Days of Service, visit