TownTalk: Rise Against Hunger Pack-A-Thon Set For Monday, Jan. 15; Volunteers Needed

Volunteers from area churches and other organizations are joining forces on the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to pack food that will be used to feed hungry people across the world.

Sandra Wiggins is one of the event organizers and she said that over the course of four hours or so on Monday, Jan. 15, she expects to be able to pack 60,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger.

“We did 30,000 in about three or four hours last year,” Wiggins said on Monday’s TownTalk. “We know we can definitely hit this mark this year – we’re just really excited to do this…on Martin Luther King Day,” she said.

The Rise Against Hunger pack-a-thon will take place at the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Wiggins represents The First Baptist Church of Henderson, but she said numerous churches and school groups from Henderson and Oxford are signed up to participate as well.

So far, the following groups are participating: First Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, Henderson, South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church, Oxford Preparatory School, Flat Rock United Methodist Church, Fuller Chapel, Davis Chapel, South Henderson Church of God, Clearview Church and Cornerstone Christian Community Church. Wiggins said Vance Charter School and Oxford United Methodist Church plans to send volunteers as well.

“This is really a community event,” Wiggins said. About 100 people have signed up so far, and there’s still time to register – they need several hundred volunteers to sign up to work a two-hour shift. The first shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and the second shift is from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Participants should report to the civic center and sign in, and from there, they’ll head to a packing station where they will help measure out individual bags of rice, seasonings and vitamins.

Most of the food packs will be transported overseas, but Wiggins said some are kept here in the U.S. for use when disaster strikes.

Register or give online at There’s a $25,000 fundraising goal that goes along with the pack-a-thon. Wiggins said $45 provides 100 meals.

But the event is about more than packing nutritional food and sending it to impoverished areas across the world.

Wiggins said next week’s event also shines a light on two local organizations that work to fight hunger right here in Vance and Granville counties.

She invites all participants to the Rise Against Hunger event to bring canned goods or other non-perishable items to be delivered to ACTS and ACIM, the food bank in Oxford.

Wiggins shared one of her favorite quotes attributed to King, the slain Civil rights leader whose work is honored and remembered on Jan. 15.

“Love has to be put into action and that action is service,” Wiggins said, adding that “when we have the ability to do, we should.”

Annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards Nominations Being Accepted Now


Do you know someone who makes a difference in the community through volunteerism? Nominations for the annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are being accepted now. Each year, the awards are presented to individuals who make significant contributions to the communities they live in through volunteer service.

An individual or group from the public, nonprofit and private sector may be nominated for this recognition award by a community member. For more information or to make a nomination online or download a nomination form, visit  Use this site to locate your county’s contact person to whom you submit nominations. The nominations may be downloaded or completed online.

Some counties have designated specific individuals to receive the nominations from their county. According to information on the state government website, different counties may establish their own deadlines for submission. Vance County residents who wish to send in a nomination should do so by Feb. 16 via email to

Granville County nominations are due by Friday, Jan. 12 and should be submitted to

In Franklin County, nominations should be submitted by Jan. 31 to Charles Mitchell

Warren County residents should send nominations by Feb. 1 to Crystal Smith at

The Local Skinny! ‘Next NC Scholarship’ Helps Students Pay For College

When it comes to paying for a college education, one of the first things for parents and students to know is the difference between scholarships and grants versus loans. A loan has to be repaid; grants and scholarships don’t.

Vance-Granville Community College President Dr. Rachel Desmarais said her school’s financial aid officers at each of the college’s four campuses are ready to help prospective students as they navigate the sometimes choppy waters of paying for post-secondary schooling.

The Next NC Scholarship is just one of the funding streams available to many state residents, Desmarais said on Monday’s segment of The Local Skinny!

Students in households that make less than $80,000 are eligible for at least $3,000 an academic year at a community college under the Next NC Scholarship. There are several other criteria to be eligible for the Next NC funds, including being a state resident already enrolled in a program and taking at least 6 credit hours.

Close to one-third of VGCC’s traditional student population use some type of financial aid to pay for their tuition and fees, she said.

Whether students are in a path for a certification, a two-year associate degree or want to transfer to a four-year college or university, Desmarais said it’s important to keep student loan debt as low as possible.
“The less debt you can accumulate during that time is important,” she said, adding that scholarships like the Next NC Scholarship and Pell Grants from the federal government both help students be able to afford college.

“They help individuals get that good job and not be stacked with debt,” Desmarais said.

“If you’re spending all your money repaying student loans, you’re not really getting ahead,” she noted.

Many high school seniors and their parents are in the process of completing the all-important Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which opened on Dec. 31, 2023.

VGCC will host a FAFSA Day on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on the Main Campus in Henderson, Desmarais said. This is a time when families can learn more about the financial aid process and get help completing the online documents. The event will take place in Building 7, with check-in in the front lobby. There is plenty of nearby parking to accommodate participants.

“We’re here to help,” Desmarais said. “We enjoy meeting new folks and helping them walk through the financial aid process. We’re excited about helping people plan for college.”

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Wreaths Across America Mobile Museum Plans Stop In Oxford Jan. 26-28

The City of Oxford is one of the scheduled stops for a Wreaths Across America tour, whose mission is to recognize military veterans and remember those who died in service to the country.

The organization’s Mobile Education Unit will be set up at 105 Lewis St., Oxford from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 28, according to information from Karen Worcester, the group’s executive director.

“The mission of Wreaths Across America is to Remember the fallen, honor those who served and teach the next generation the value of freedom,” Worcester said in a press statement.

“The Mobile Education Exhibit provides the unique opportunity for communities to come together and share the stories of those who served and sacrificed. Through our partnership with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, the exhibit also serves as an official ‘Welcome Home’ location for our nation’s Vietnam veterans,” she said.

The exhibit will be set up for two days in the northeastern part of the state before it comes to Oxford; from there, it will continue to stops in Havelock, New Bern and Mooresville. Each stop will allow the community, veterans, active-duty military and their families to engage in interactive exhibits, view short films, share stories and educate visitors who come to the exhibit.

When the mobile exhibit arrives, all veterans, active-duty military, their families, and community members are invited and encouraged to visit, take a tour and speak with WAA representatives and volunteers. They can also share more about the national nonprofit and its volunteer work to support our heroes and their communities year-round.

To host the MEE in your community, whether it be for a parade, a school-related or veterans’ organization, or a public or private event, visit to make a request.

You can sponsor a veteran’s wreath anytime for $17 at Each sponsorship goes toward a live balsam wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an American hero as we endeavor to honor all veterans laid to rest on Saturday, December 14, 2024, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day.

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery which was begun by Maine businessman Morrill Webster in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, and thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

Granville County Animal Shelter

Granville Animal Shelter Short-Staffed By Illness, Resulting In Limited Services

  • Information courtesy of Granville County Public Information Officer Terry Hobgood

Due to illnesses among many staff members, Granville County Animal Shelter will have limited public services available over the coming days. The shelter will be open from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28 through Saturday, Dec. 30 for adoptions, return to owners and rescue pulls. Existing appointments for rabies vaccines will be honored, but no new appointments will be scheduled until Jan. 2, 2024, at the earliest.

While the shelter is short-staffed, the following policies will be in effect:

  • Surrenders of cats or dogs will be suspended. The public is encouraged to utilize Rehome by Adopt a Pet at The site is free and trusted by animal shelters and rescues across the United States. The Granville County Animal Shelter utilizes this site to advertise adoptable pets.
  • If you locate a stray animal, do not confine the animal yourself unless you are willing and able to hold it until at least Tuesday, Jan. 2.
  • Report all stray animals directly to Granville County Animal Management via email at with a photo of the animal, the street address if known, or at least the name of the city and street and the closest cross street. You may also send the same information to the volunteer-run Granville County Animal Shelter Friends Facebook page:

TownTalk: Family Creates VGCC Scholarship For Students In CDL Program In Memory Of Loved One

– information courtesy of VGCC Public Information Officer Courtney Cissel

Family members of a local man have established scholarships for Vance-Granville Community College students in the commercial driver license program to honor his memory and acknowledge the positive effects the program had on his life.

David Lee Chavis, Jr. was a victim of gun violence who died in March 2023. His sister, Tameka Holden, and his mother, Carrie Cheek, both of Henderson, have established two need-based scholarships that will award $1,100 to students pursuing their CDL.

Chavis, affectionately called “DJ” by those who knew him, built a successful career as a commercial truck driver in recent years. A native of Vance County, Chavis had once lived a very different life—but hard work, renewed vision, and a commercial driver’s license provided him with a fresh start and an honest means of supporting his family.

Holden witnessed firsthand how her brother’s whole life transformed when he began his driving career and started his own business, TYM Trucking. From her perspective, creating a scholarship that can free others from a cycle of poverty and crime is the perfect way to honor his legacy and demonstrate her personal motto: Reach one, teach one.

If these scholarships prevent another family from experiencing the loss that hers did, Holden feels the effort it took to establish them will have been worth it. “The streets don’t love you,” she stressed. “They only take you away from the people that do.”

The VGCC Foundation anticipates awarding the two CDL scholarships in January 2024. The contribution represents grassroots fundraising efforts from family, friends, and neighbors; VGCCF has set up an ongoing fund for the David Lee Chavis Jr. Memorial CDL Annual Scholarship so that donors can continue to support the college’s future CDL students.

Vance-Granville Community College recently announced that the cost of completing its 9-week CDL program will decrease to $1,200 in 2024, meaning that tuition and related fees will be almost completely covered for recipients of the David Lee Chavis Jr. Memorial CDL Annual Scholarship.

In addition to providing scholarships to deserving students, the Vance-Granville Community College Foundation supports a broad range of special projects involving education, training, and economic development in our community. Tax-deductible donations to VGCCF have often been used to honor a person, group, business, or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the VGCC Foundation, contact 252-738-3264 or



Oxford Seeks Input On City Marketing Strategies Via Online Survey

The City of Oxford and the Downtown Oxford Economic Development Corporation are working to create a brand identity and marketing strategy to promote Oxford as a place to live, visit and conduct business.

Part of the effort will include creation of a dedicated brand to promote Downtown Oxford as a unique destination, according to information from Sabrina Richards, communications specialist for the city of Oxford.

Richards stated that city leaders will hold public workshops in 2024 to gather input from the community as the strategies are developed.

Complete the survey at

City of Oxford

Oxford Official Completes REDI Training From N.C. Rural Center

Alyssa Blair, Downtown Development director for the City of Oxford, is among the most recent class to complete the Rural Economic Development Institute.

REDI, the N.C. Rural Center’s flagship leadership development program, is a three-month training program that offers participants resources and tools they need to tackle economic and community development issues facing rural North Carolina, according to a press statement from Bill Holmes, senior director of communications for the Rural Center.

In a press statement, Sabrina Richards, communications specialist for the City of Oxford, said “Alyssa’s participation in REDI reflects her ongoing commitment to professional growth and her passion for promoting economic development. We have no doubt that the knowledge and skills she has gained through this program will be invaluable in her role as Downtown Development Director and will continue to benefit the City of Oxford.”

Now in its 32nd year, REDI has trained more than 1,100 leaders across the state. As a graduate of REDI, Blair now joins that extensive alumni network that spans all of North Carolina’s 100 counties and includes graduates from the Rural Center’s other leadership training program,  Homegrown Leaders. Many of the center’s leadership alumni are active in state and local government and in philanthropic, nonprofit and small-business sectors, as well as in faith- and  community-based organizations.

“We had an amazing REDI class this year made up of a diverse group of participants from various sectors representing 18 different North Carolina counties,” said Olaunda Green, director of leadership training for the N.C. Rural Center. “Something magical happens when you put individuals into a room, who seemingly have nothing in common, but after going through this program, relationships form, connections are made and lifelong partnerships are created.”

Rural Center President and CEO Patrick Woodie delivered the final remarks of the graduation ceremony and encouraged the new graduates to return home to build bridges.

“Congratulations to this year’s class of REDI graduates for investing in yourselves and your communities through this valuable training,” Woodie said. “Rural North Carolina needs leaders like you willing to look at challenges in a new way, and we know you have many successes  ahead of you.”

To learn more, visit

Granville County Residents: Three Rabid Skunk Cases Reported In Recent Weeks

– Information courtesy of Granville County Public Information Officer Terry Hobgood

Granville County Animal Control Officers have confirmed three separate cases of rabid skunks in recent weeks – one case on Harry Davis Road in Bullock, one on College Street in Oxford and one on Oak Valley Drive near Old NC 75 in Stem. Two of these cases involved a rabid skunk fighting with a family dog, which serves as a reminder to make sure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccines.

All cats, dogs and ferrets are required to receive regular rabies vaccines in North Carolina, and failure to do so could result in a required quarantine or euthanasia if an unvaccinated pet is involved in an altercation with another rabid animal.

Make sure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccines, and if they are not, schedule a vaccination with your veterinarian or contact the Granville County Animal Shelter to receive a vaccine for a fee of $6. Rabies vaccines are available during the shelter’s public operating hours Tuesday through Saturday.

Call the Granville County Animal Shelter at 919.693.6749 to schedule an appointment to vaccinate your pet or to receive additional information about this statewide regulation. The shelter is located at 515 New Commerce Dr. in Oxford.



Families Living Violence Free

The Local Skinny! Families Living Violence Free Seeks New Executive Director

Families Living Violence Free is in a search process to identify a new executive director to succeed Executive Director Peggy Roark, who is retiring.

Like many directors at many agencies, the FLVF director will report to the board of directors and will oversee planning and directing the operations of the agency. This role, however, also requires having extensive knowledge about crimes of domestic violence, assaults and how to help victims in crisis.

An ideal candidate will have a four-year degree and will have a combination of credentials and experience to be an effective leader for the agency who demonstrates the ability to manage complex, sensitive matters creatively, effectively and confidentially. The new executive director should have a commitment to philanthropic causes and will have held leadership roles in other non-profit agencies for at least two years.

Visit to learn more about this position.