By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The terraced hills on the campus of Bluefield State College were receiving some tender loving care Friday courtesy of a $10,000 grant from Home Depot along with the sweat equity of about 40 Home Depot employees and 320 volunteer students and staff members from BSC.
BSC was among 15 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation that received the grants from Home Depot’s “Retool Your School” HBCU Campus Improvement Program. Dr. Shelia Johnson, BSC vice president of financial and administration affairs was thrilled at the day, and thrilled by the effort of all the volunteers.
“It’s been a tremendous outpouring of support from Home Depot, our students, staff and faculty,” Johnson said. “We have three major projects going on today, 13 smaller projects and we will be placing 25 beautiful new benches around campus.
“We’re putting pavers here,” she said as she motioned to a site outside the lower level of Dickason Hall. “We’re making a small park at this site, and we’re also planting 1,150 plants and trees around campus.”
According to Johnson, 60 HBCUs applied for Home Depot’s Retool Your School Grant. Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., received the top award of $50,000 and Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tenn., received the second place $25,000 grant and BSC was among the 13 schools that each received $10,000 grants.
Along with the grants, 40 Home Depot employees from the region volunteered to put in a day of work to help the school. The employees came from five Home Depot stores in Virginia — two in Roanoke, and one store each from Christiansburg, Danville and Lynchville; as well as three North Carolina stores.
“Both of my cousins are associated with this school,” Jimmy Holcomb said. Holcomb is the captain of the Christiansburg, Va., Home Depot Retool Your School team. He was using a tamper to compact the soil where some pavers were going to be placed. “One of my cousins is a Bluefield State graduate and the other is a student now. I like this project because we can get out and help with projects in our own community, and I consider Bluefield State as being part of our community.”
Dakota Dodson was one of the student volunteers who braved the cold temperatures to work on the Retool Your School project at BSC in 2010. He is now a fourth-year student, and vice president of the BSC Student Government Association.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” Dodson said. “I have planted trees, flowers, helped deliver water, and I’ve filled in wherever I have been needed. The first time I did it, it was great! This time, it’s really great to see how much we’ve been able to get done.”
Kimberly Daniels, representative with the BSC human resources department, was busy pushing a broom to clean a portion of the parking lot of the Ned Shott Gymnasium where a crew had just finished planting flowers.
“It was so cold when we did this in 2010, but it’s a great day today!” Daniels said. “Everybody seems to be having a really good time. There’s something really nice about being outside and working in the soil. It’s natural.”
The BSC cheerleaders who worked to plant several flower beds between the BSC entrance and the Basic Science Building, got into uniform and gave a special cheer as part of the luncheon celebration on Friday afternoon.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com쇓