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National Guard Joins BCS Response
National Guard Joins BCS Response
Posted on 04/29/2020
Staff Sgt. Felton Pross hands a meal to a family at Oakley Elementary School.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Under their face masks, Staff Sgt. Felton Pross and Sgt. Belton Hendricks were smiling as they handed out nutritious meals to families at Oakley Elementary School on Tuesday.

They and 10 other North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers are lending a hand at school meal sites and delivering supplies from the BCS Family Resource Center as part of the growing community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I didn’t hesitate at all to reach back out to my chain of command, and I volunteered,” Staff Sgt. Pross said. “I love taking care of the people of my country and my community. That’s what motivates me to come out and do my part.”

He and Sgt. Belton both recently returned from overseas deployments and answered an open call for help.

“We’re preparing meals, organizing drop-offs, and giving a face-to-face presence,” Staff Sgt. Pross said. “We’re going to do what needs to be done to provide disaster relief in the community.”

At the Family Resource Center, Maj. John Duncan, the North Carolina National Guard liaison officer for the Buncombe County Emergency Operations Center, checked location assignments and ensured an efficient distribution of people and supplies.

“We’re bringing generations upon generations of logistics experience,” he said. “We’ve got soldiers who have spent years moving troops, equipment, and supplies throughout battlefields. Now, our soldiers are just thrilled because we’re able to bring lunches to kids. That’s kind of a dream job for us. We’re really happy to be here and help out.”

Most commonly recognized during hurricane relief, soldiers have often been called for clean-up, assisting with security, shelter, and food distribution, said BCS Assistant Superintendent Joseph Hough, who retired from the National Guard last year after 32 years of service.

“The National Guard has a long history of answering the call when their communities and nation were in need,” he said. “Whether the crisis is in a wartime effort or assistance with environmental needs, the modern-day minuteman soldier has always been there. These soldiers working with our school system are no strangers to this type of work and they are glad to do it. When we asked them to come and join us they were here the very next working day. This is a testament to their motto: ‘Always Ready, Ready Team.’ We are so thankful to have them and they are doing an outstanding job. It has been great for me to be able to stay connected with them in this mission.”

BCS is stepping up to support the community during these unprecedented times. Child Nutrition staff have served more than half-a-million meals since March 16, and the Family Resource Center continues to bring food and supplies to families with transportation burdens. Thanks to previous investments in the 1:1 Digital Initiative and Homework Hotspots, students have personal devices and access to the high-speed Internet they need for BCS Virtual Days online classes.

For more information about how Buncombe County Schools is responding to the COVID-19 crisis, including where to receive free meals, please visit

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