Time to Care Award winner Donald Perry, August 5, 2009. (WRDW-TV)
August 5, 2009, News 12 at 6 o'clock
NEW ELLENTON, S.C.--- It's been in the news a lot this summer. Schools everywhere are having to make cuts in jobs and in programs. When school starts this month, volunteers will be more important than ever to make ends meet.
This month's Time to Care award winner is a big man who makes a big difference in a small town's elementary school. Donald Perry is our Time To Care winner for August.
"I'm so glad to be here," he told us in the school's lobby recently.
And that's why they love Donald Perry in New Ellenton. He is glad to be here helping kids, help themselves.
"Its better to help someone," Perry says. "If you know what you're doing, help the younger ones come up."
He's got children of his own in the local schools, a few nieces and he's a coach to some of the kids too.
"So I'm known as Coach Don, Uncle Don and Daddy Don," he says with a chuckle.
But don't let the laugh fool you. Assistant Principal Kathy Freeman will tell you this school volunteer means business.
"You know when I watch him sometimes walking through the hallways, he's telling the young men- pull your pants up. Put your shirt in. And they do it."
Perry explains, "If you got a shirt that needs to be inside your pants, then you need to put it in your pants. Put a belt on- pull your pants up. Your self respect is the best respect."
Donald perry mentors kids one on one. Teaching everything from social skills to academics. When he heard that budget cuts would do away with Greendale's in school suspension program, he volunteered to run it himself. All the while- preaching what he calls "the three L's."
"That's look, listen and learn."
It's an old fashioned approach, right down to a word we don't hear much anymore- values.
"We gotta get back to the values," Perry says. "A lot of people say times change- yep times change, but values don't."
When he's not volunteering in school--- Donald Perry is running New Ellenton's recreation program and earning the respect of Mayor Vernon Dunbar. "He's always mentoring," according to the mayor.
But this coach knows athletics is not the answer- education is.
"You got football players out there that are superstars, but they ain't cuttin' the grade. And if you ain't got the grade you ain't goin' anywhere. You know, I tell 'em football, baseball basketball- here today, gone tomorrow," Perry says, "but me nor you can take that education away from 'em."
He's a straight talking Time To Care award winner. The only thing Donald Perry seems to avoid is the spotlight.
"First and foremost, giving honor to Jesus Christ, our lord and our savior. And if it wasn't for Him- He made this day possible."
School officials call Donald Perry an answer to prayer. They also say volunteers are really needed in schools right now. Especially male volunteers. Maybe Donald Perry will inspire you to get involved and start volunteering this month.
And of course, we want to thank our Time To Care Partners who make this award possible. Subway, The Taylor Auto Group and Troy University.
If you want to nominate someone for our Time To Care Award, you can do that on this website using the link below.