Throughout the day deputies of the Sampson County Sheriff’s deal with the stress of enforcing laws, investigating crimes and apprehending criminals. It’s the reason Alexa Aviles was more than happy to show her appreciation Friday afternoon at the Sheriff’s Office.
Wearing her sparkling crown and sash, the eighth-grader used her Miss Midway Middle School honor to put smiles on the faces of deputies when she delivered 180 carnations.
“I’m giving carnations to our cops because I wanted them to know that we do appreciate the work that they do in our community,” Alexa said. “They help a lot and we wouldn’t be where we’re at without them.”
Her idea for the service project, “Carnations for Cops,” began with the help of her parents Antelmo and Anita Aviles.
“With what’s been happening in the schools and the shootings, they’re like the first line of defense,” Anita said. “It’s not much, but it’s a sign of thanks and appreciation.”
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton showed appreciation for the young student’s thoughts to make sure every deputy received a carnation.
“It’s rewarding to us to know that people appreciate what we do,” Thornton said. “I’m most appreciative of that.”
About three months ago, Alexa organized a raffle at Midway Middle School with the help of her friend Makayla Chavis, Guidance Counselor Misty McLamb and Principal John Goode.
“My friends were very supportive of me,” Alexa said. “My friend Makayla would sit with me at lunch and help me sell tickets. It made it a lot more fun.”
The grand prize consisted of a tablet, followed by $50 and $25 gift cards.Alexa raised $140 which was used to purchase the carnations and to help classrooms with exceptional children.
“I’m very supportive of it because it’s teaching her to be a better citizen and it’s teaching her to give back to the community,” Anita said. “Whatever she wants to so, we try to be there for her and encourage her to do what she wants or likes. It takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it at the end.”
The raffle became Alexa’s first project after she was crowned Miss Midway during her seventh-grade year in March. When Alexa is not representing her school in Dunn as Miss Midway Middle School, she enjoys dancing, drama classes and being a member of the cheer team. In the future she would like to attend North Carolina State University or the Juilliard School and own a dance company.
Thornton also added that it’s encouraging to see youth such as Alexa use her talent and title to recognize law enforcement and to help the students.
“I think it’s neat,” Thornton said while holding a carnation in his hands. “We’ll pass them out to all of our officers and I’m pretty sure they’ll be tickled to death by it.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.