Nearly two dozen donors, supporters and school counselors gathered at Christ Lutheran Church this morning to celebrate this year’s achievements through the Salt & Light Movement and its collective effort to improve the lives of children in Cumberland County schools.
Begun in 2014 with just four sponsored classrooms – one each in Brown, Martin, Pleasant Hill and South Cumberland elementary schools – organizer Beverly Talbott had big dreams for reaching out to children in need in the county’s schools.
Talbott, a lay minister at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Big Lick, envisioned a community wherein children in Sunday-school classes – and other caring individuals – could sponsor classrooms whose students might not have access to the resources other children had.
“I wanted kids to know they could make a difference in another child’s life,” she said.
What began with the humblest of beginnings has blossomed in a way Talbott couldn’t have imagined.
The first year, Salt & Light was able to sponsor four classrooms; in the second and third years, that number grew to 12 and then 22 classes, respectively. Last year, donors sponsored 37 classrooms. She said she hardly dared hope it could grow further, but she said God is a big God who can work wonders. “This year we’re putting it in the miraculous zone,” Talbott said. “Fifty sponsors. Five thousand dollars!”
Photos courtesy Glenn Talbott
At the beginning of the academic year, funds are presented to the teachers of the sponsored classes, to be used at their discretion. Some teachers have used the funds to purchase supplies for classroom projects; others have spent the money on food for children’s holiday tables. Still others have paid for needed prescriptions for their young charges. Some volunteers go in to their sponsored classrooms to read to the children. Others donate health kits, games or clothing items.
Talbott said a primary goal of Salt & Light is to teach the children they are valuable, important, gifted and talented. And however the funds are disbursed, the aim is to impart those vital lessons to the children, so they realize they have value.
The guest speaker at the luncheon was Cumberland County Sheriff Casey Cox, who told the group he learned when he was elected sheriff, “you get pulled in a lot of different directions,” with people wanting him to speak, serve on boards and join groups. He said he quickly found there were talkers and there were doers. “It’s obvious to me this is a doing organization and a doing group of people,” he said.
Cox, who drove in from Gatlinburg, where he’s been attending a weeklong conference of sheriffs, chiefs of police and TBI officers, said he’s honored to be among people who are doing something to improve the way of life for so many kids, one child at a time.
Both Talbott and Cox spoke about how Sheriff Butch Burgess and his wife cared for 57 foster children over the years – and even adopted one of their foster children. Both stressed that kindness can make a real difference in the lives of children who need attention, care and love.
We don’t know where one simple act will improve that child’s life,” Talbott said. “We’re not going to do everything, but we can do something.”
For more information or to get involved with the Salt & Light Movement, contact Beverly Talbott at (931) 210-3306.