The Random Acts of Kindness Club at West Stokes High School voiced their concerns over the mounting opioid issue at a Fed Up Rally in Raleigh on Aug. 31.
The club, in its fourth year at West Stokes, is part of a larger organization which hosts meetings across the country at high schools, colleges and in communities.
Teacher and sponsor Jerri-Kaye Mabe said the goal of the group is to make a difference in the lives of others.
“We hope to promote an atmosphere of kindness, happiness, and unity in our school and community and to inspire others to join our movement,” she said. “We meet every Thursday afternoon and also on Thursday mornings for students that can’t attend afterschool. The activities we participate in depends largely on the needs of the community and the interests of the students.”
In the past year the club has planted food crops at the Betty and Jim Holmes Community Food Bank Garden, co-sponsored a variety show to raise money for students in need of financial assistance with field trips and school related supplies. The club also hosted a spaghetti supper fundraiser and raised $2,000 to help a staff member’s wife pay for a kidney transplant, volunteered at the Little Folks Festival, and assisted other groups with service projects.
Mabe said the club attended the Fed Up Rally so they could learn more about the opioid issue and use it to help others in their own community.
“We were also especially interested because we wanted to be there to support Claudia Marini, the mother of former West Stokes High School student, Maddie Marini who recently passed away due to a heroin overdose.”
Brittney Mabe, who serves as president of The Random Acts of Kindness Club, said the rally helped club members understand the dangers of opioids and motivated the group to do something about the problem.
“It was emotional hearing all of the family stories and things that parents and children have gone through,” she said. “I was especially touched by Claudia Marini and her family. She was so generous and brave to share her story with us. One reason it touched us so much was because her daughter was a part of our community.”
Now, that she’s seen how lives have been affected, she wants to be part of the solution to stop the epidemic.
“They really felt empathy for the parents that spoke at the event and they brought back a strong desire to educate the students at West Stokes about the dangers of drug abuse,” Mabe said.
She believes it’s vital adults continue the conversations about the dangers of substance abuse.
“If it’s not talked about and the dangers involved aren’t laid out on the table, more students may needlessly ruin their lives or even end their lives due to this horrible substance,” she said.
“These drugs are extremely addictive and are often very available. They can be found in a parent or grandparent’s medicine cabinet. There are sometimes leftovers after a family member has recovered from surgery or an injury. Students may look at prescription medication as being alright because a family member has taken it for chronic pain for years. They don’t know about the risks of overdose that exist.”
The Random Acts of Kindness Club is already making plans to have Marini and Joan Robinson, mother to Hannah Robinson who also died of a drug overdose in 2015, speak to the students at West Stokes about the tragic stories of what could happen if they get involved with drugs.
“I think they realized at the rally that this could happen to someone they know. I think they were able to see how this issue truly affects everyone in a family and it can cause such pain and devastation. They started to see the issue as something we all need to get involved in,” Mabe said.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.