July 18, 2014
People who who have worked to improve their community through acts of kindness big and small were celebrated on Friday.
The law firm of Allen and Allen honored Hometown Heroes during Fridays After Five on the Downtown Mall.
The firm's annual awards recognized local acts of kindness and heroism.
One local hero was Stone Robinson Elementary fourth grader Addison Garrett. She collects stuffed animals for local police, fire, and rescue workers to calm children during emergency situations.
"They give them to the little kids so they won't be scared and they won't cry. They'll just get the tension away from the car accident," Garrett explained.
Jessica Spears, a kindergarten teacher at Burnley-Moran Elementary School, also won the Hometown Hero title this year. In addition to teaching in the classroom, outside the classroom she works to teach kids to be good citizens, kind to everyone, and good caretakers of their bodies through exercise and healthy eating.
Spears describes her work as an effort to "make school a place where kids can celebrate their bodies and their minds."
To celebrate both bodies and minds, Jessica and two parents created the Walkathon for Wellness to raise money for after-school clubs and other extracurricular activities. She also led a running club and a club to help kids cultivate healthy habits.
"An atmosphere of wellness...hasn't happened overnight, but it's been lots of slow and steady steps with lots of team effort so that school's a place where kids can feel they're nurturing more than just their minds," acknowledged Spears.
Spears, who also works in several other community activities, appreciates the recognition of her work.
"In the general classroom, it's not something that's considered within the curriculum, so it really comes to being extracurricular to make sure that kids are cared for, and their feelings are cared for, their bodies are cared for. Just so kids know that their teachers and the parents at their school value that I think is really important. And that Allen and Allen is honoring Burnley Moran for the efforts that we've done also shows that the community -- the Charlottesville community -- values that, too," said Spears.
Garrett also appreciates the recognition of her work.
"It feels great," said Garrett. "I've been congratulated like a hundred times and I'm really excited."
Allen and Allen began the awards in the 2010.