ROCKINGHAM — Habitat for Humanity of the North Carolina Sandhills will partner with Zaxby’s from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7 for its first Stuff the Truck donation drive of 2017.
Michael Rivera, general manager of Zaxby’s in Rockingham, hopes people will turn out for the event he says will not only be a chance to do some good for people in need, but also fun.
“We’re going to bring out Little Zax, our (mascot) chicken, and have him waving at people coming in,” he said. “Anybody who comes in and actually donates to Stuff the Truck will get a 10 percent discount on their next meal at Zaxby’s (Rockingham only), and I’ll have some coupons printed out and we’re going to do some advertising to attract people to the event. Hopefully it will be a huge turnout and everybody in Rockingham will show up.”
Trey Robbins, Rockingham ReStore manager, said business partners for this event are a new and welcome development.
“Stuff the Truck events we have held in the past have been with churches and schools,” Robbins said. “We are excited that Zaxby’s will be our first business host, and look forward to working with them more in the future.”
John Lentz, Richmond County development manager with Habitat, said this is the perfect time of year for people to donate unwanted or unused household items to a good cause — with the added benefit of the discount coupons from Zaxby’s.
“And that coupon can be used at any time, not just the day of the event,” Lentz said. “This is our first Stuff the Truck event of the year and we’re very happy that Zaxby’s agreed to partner with us on this. We’re going to have a big banner out front, and the truck itself will be out there. We take anything you don’t need: clothing, electronics, furniture. We sell it in our ReStore, and those proceeds go towards the payment of a house for someone.”
Lentz added that often, the organization’s mission is misunderstood.
“Habitat for Humanity does not give houses away,” Lentz emphasized. “Rather, it provides affordable housing with zero-percent interest to qualifying applicants.”
Stuff the Truck events help to stock the ReStore, where donated items can be purchased inexpensively and Habitat builds are supported by the sales.
“The more stuff we get, the better they can help their fellow community members. We wanted to get the word out early so people will have time to go into their attics or garages and dust off those things they might want to bring in.”
After all, lots of people do a little cleaning out after Christmas to say goodbye to things they no longer use or need, things that have been replaced by newer gifts.
Rivera, whose two-year-old son, Sam, sat in a booster chair beside him at Zaxby’s Friday, said his company is “100 percent” behind the donation drive.
“I’ve been in management for 23 years,” Rivera said. “Three with Zaxby’s, and I’ve been at this store for a year. I’m trying to give as much back to the community as I possibly can so we can develop a good, handshaking relationship. Everybody with Zaxby’s is on board. They’ve done things with Habitat for Humanity in the past in other locations and said it’s a really good thing. A wonderful thing.”
”The coupons from this event can be used any time and will not have a discard date, so anytime you want, you’ll be able to use it at Rockingham Zaxby’s,” he continued. “It includes any item on the menu. It can be applied to catering orders, too. Some companies frown on the discount thing. I think it’s really good, especially with Stuff the Truck. I think that’s a wonderful thing because it’s helping people who live here. I’ve been part of this community since October last year, and I know Habitat helps out a lot.”
“We’re always looking for people who would like to volunteer at one of the builds going on,” Lentz said. “We have one in Hamlet going on right now, we just finished one in Dobbins Heights, and next we’re coming to Rockingham, then back to Hamlet for two more. So we’re always looking for volunteers, and over at the ReStore.”
Lentz and Rivera both hope the community will support the effort by dropping off items.
“Your donation, big or small, will end up helping people who really need help in this community,” Lentz said. “Nothing is too small to donate.”
To learn more about how to become a business community partner, or to volunteer at a Habitat home being built (no experience necessary), call John Lentz at 910-280-8034.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.