Polk County High School student gives back, earns Volunteer of the Year Award

Published 10:55 pm Sunday, May 9, 2021

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Sabrina Ballard honored for her service

“You either have a heart to serving or you don’t,” says John Blanton, a North Carolina retiree and volunteer with United Way of the Piedmont’s Gifts in Kind Center (GIKC). Blanton is among a group of volunteers who arrive at the GIKC warehouse in Spartanburg, South Carolina every Tuesday morning from Beulah Baptist Church. Most volunteers are retirees, but Blanton says, “It’s important that we set an example for younger folks to help get them started.”

Enter Sabrina Ballard, a 17-year-old Polk County High School student. When Covid forced school closures, she began making the hour-long trek with her church’s volunteer group to the GIKC every week. The GIKC is a United Way of the Piedmont program that redistributes returned or unsold Walmart merchandise to over 100 non-profits across the Carolinas and Southeastern United States. Ballard works alongside other volunteers sorting the items. Ballard, who was recently named the Ernest “Skip” Hoagland GIKC Volunteer of the Year, says, “It’s fun.” 

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For a small annual fee, member agencies can shop at the GIKC on a recurring basis—each time, getting needed items for clients and operations that save them thousands of dollars over the course of the year. Monday through Thursday mornings committed volunteers unload and sort donated goods at the GIKC so local agencies can easily shop for products to support their missions.

“With schools being closed, we were trying to give young people exposure to seeing all kinds of things going on that’s not at school,” said Beulah Baptist Church volunteer Robert Means. “[Sabrina] enjoys the volunteer activities. It is great exposure for her to interact with people and see the need and the assistance that GIKC provides to a lot of different organizations.”

Beulah Baptist Church, also a GIKC member agency, uses the products they obtain at the GIKC when they host local giveaways to help those struggling in their community.  

For more information about the GIKC, visit www.uwpiedmont.org/gikc.

Learn more at www.uwpiedmont.org.


Submitted by Janice Tuck