The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Torrey Smith draws fans, contributions
Torrey Smith fans ignored the cold temperatures Thursday night so they could meet the Ravens wide receiver and donate school supplies to help Colonial Beach Elementary.
Smith’s foundation teamed up with the Ferry Farm Walmart to collect supplies to replace all those lost in the fire Jan.5 that burned down the former high school.
Walmart assembled prepackaged containers of school items for customers to easily grab and pay for before they went to hand them off to Smith, who cheerfully greeted each contributor.
The boxes contained such items as tape, markers, pens, pencils, staples, sticky notes, crayons, modeling clay, and glue. They were grouped in $5, $10, $15 and $20 bundles.
As customers passed the boxes to Smith, he placed them in a school bus from the elementary school.
The goal was to fill the bus by the end of the night.
Smith went to Colonial Beach Elementary and fondly remembers the school.
“All my elementary school memories are there,” he said.
He talked about playing basketball in the crackerbox, the affectionately named gym, which suffered smoke and water damage from the fire.
Smith pledged his support to help the school soon after the fire.
“Between growing up in Colonial Beach and going to high school in Fredericksburg, like, this is home and if they need help, I’m there,” he said.
“You never want to forget where you came from—I’m glad to be here,” he said.
Fans began lining up around 5:30 p.m. in the garden department, and the line led to Smith, standing under a tent, near the bus, right in front of the store.
Walmart set up the boxes and taped off an area in the store and in front of it for the anticipated large crowd.
“We try to stay heavily involved and take care of each other,” said store manager Stephen Nelson.
He said they wanted to make sure the school system has the supplies it needs to get back on its feet.
Stafford resident Sherry Roberson was there with her two sons to donate supplies and meet Smith.
“He’s a great guy, we’ve known him for years,” she said about Smith.
“He’s always stepped up and helped when he could, it’s great.”
She said her son was very excited to meet him.
Adreka Johnson of Fredericksburg was there with her family also.
“It could have been a school in Fredericksburg,” she said about the fire.
“We wanted the chance to give back and meet Torrey.”
She said even though she considers herself a die-hard Redskins fan, she likes Torrey Smith.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for him to engage with the community,” she said.
“He’s definitely taking that step to not forget where he came from,” she said.
The school system has benefited from several fundraisers and collection drives since the fire.
“That’s what it’s all about—people banding together and helping out,” Smith said.
The students have temporarily relocated to Oak Grove Baptist Church in Westmoreland County while officials decide what to do about the building.
“The memory is still there. The building may not be, but the memory is still there,” Smith said.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413