In honor of September’s National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Curry Anchor President Tres Gilbreath decided to serve the kids in Alabama by holding a drive for Camp Smile-A-Mile and Children’s Hospital Outreach Program.
“I’m in the club because it helps the community. My mom has been in the Pilot Club for longer than I have been alive, and I’ve been helping [over the years] anyway, so I just figured I could do more if I was in a club myself,” Gilbreath said. “The drives are just kind of our monthly thing. We give two hoots this month; that’s our two hoots.”
This year’s theme for the club is centered around an owl and is titled “Life is a Hoot with Anchor!” The club’s monthly newsletter is even cleverly named “Hoot & Holler!” As of now, the Curry club has 50 members total.
Gilbreath’s mother, Jackie Gilbreath, has been a member of the Pilot Club of Jasper since 2002. She served as the club’s president in 2005 and is currently serving her second term. Jackie started the Anchor Club at Curry High in 2005, which she said was a major goal of hers while serving her first term as president. Currently, there are five Anchor Clubs throughout the county — Walker High School, Carbon Hill High School, Curry High School, Dora High School and Oakman High School.
Some people assume the Anchor Club is a “girls only” club; however, Jackie Gilbreath explained that it had never been an all-female club to begin with.
“Pilot [Club] is all women, or it started off as all women and then it expanded to include men before we even got a Pilot Club in Jasper. There are so many men’s organizations in town that there are no men that want to be members, but then Anchor Clubs came about much later,” Jackie said. “The first one we had was at Walker [High] in 1972. It was always supposed to be just students; it was never specified.
“When we started at Curry, we’ve had boys and girls since the beginning. Technically, Anchor Club is for all students.”
The Curry Anchors will continue to collect the much-needed items for the teens’ wish lists until the end of September, which is next Monday. Items include: baseball caps, lightweight scarves, stretchy fashion headbands, colorful socks, picture frames, scrapbook supplies, card games, board games, iTunes gift cards, journals, books, puzzle books, stationery, craft kits, nail polish, nail art kits, tissue, hand sanitizer, lotion, and teen and sports magazines. These items must also be new for sanitary purposes, and they ask for items to not be wrapped or bundled because some girl patients may want a baseball cap while boy patients may want a journal or magazine.
“The woman at Camp Smile-A-Mile said, ‘You do not realize what a huge blessing this is because we struggle with trying to have items for the teenage patients,’” Jackie said. “The entire list of items on the ‘wish lists’ were things the woman [at Camp Smile-A-Mile] had asked some of the patients what they would like to have because she said people are really good at bringing things for the younger kids, but 15 year olds don’t want stuff like Hot Wheels and Play-Doh.”
On Wednesday afternoon, club advisors Christie Hudson and Jennifer Nichols, along with Gilbreath and senior member Kaytlin Noles, gathered outside the counselors’ offices where the items were being collected. The club sponsors two community projects a month. Besides collecting items for National Childhood Cancer Awareness, members also collected juice boxes for Backyard Blessings.
Gilbreath mentioned a student at Curry who had cancer while they attended middle school and junior high together. “That’s the first thing I thought of. Everybody in the school knew about that, and now we get a chance to do something and give back to that cause.”
Hudson added to Gilbreath’s comment saying, “because we never know when it might affect us.”
“With the juice boxes, I didn’t realize that. They said they go through 450 a week, and you think about all the little kids that go the whole weekend without having anything to eat or drink because they’re solely dependent on what they get at school,” Nichols said. “But this at least gives them a snack over the weekend. That breaks my heart to think about kids not having anything to eat or drink.”
Hudson noted that Noles is very involved with children who have special needs. Noles said by being an Anchor Club member she is “making a difference not only in local schools, but also by being able to give to the less fortunate.”
Anyone interested in contributing may contact Anchor President Tres Gilbreath at (205) 295-8845 or Pilot Club of Jasper President Jackie Gilbreath at (205) 300-3263. You may also drop items off at the First Bank of Jasper’s main office. The Anchor Club is also accepting monetary donations to purchase items for the wish lists. Make checks payable to Pilot Club of Jasper.
“I’m very proud to see the students at Curry High School and Anchor Club members involved with this very worthwhile project to raise awareness of local teenagers that are currently battling cancer,” Jackie Gilbreath said. “The Pilot Club of Jasper is proud to sponsor all of our wonderful Anchor Clubs.”