HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Charles Meyers is playing the role of Santa Claus for 700 middle school students this year.
Luckily, the 22-year-old Huntington resident had more than a dozen volunteers helping him with the gifts.
Meyers, a project engineer for Neighborgall Construction, is using his own money to make hand-crafted, wooden desk caddies for every student at Huntington Middle School. It’s part of the Future Investment Program, an initiative that the recent Marshall University graduate started this year.
The goal of the initiative, Meyers says, is to show middle and high school students that it’s important to give back to one’s community no matter how laborious the task and that aiming for a college degree can provide them with leadership abilities and a stable future.
Meyers said after he graduated from Marshall last spring, he searched for constructive ways to spend his newfound spare time.
He thought about building some furniture for himself, but he decided to do something for students who attend the same school building that he did. Meyers attended Cammack Middle School before it consolidated with West Middle School to form Huntington Middle School and is a 2009 graduate of Huntington High School.
“I’ve been in full force since that idea popped in my head,” he said. “I’ve been busy getting the kits for the desk caddies together and cutting wood, sanding and staining.”
In the Don Morris Room at the Memorial Student Center on Nov. 17, Marshall students with Black United Students and a handful of other community members helped Meyers glue dozens of the desk caddies together. Members of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church also have helped during the process, he said.
Cabell County Schools Superintendent William Smith was among the volunteers who helped.
Smith said he was impressed with Meyers’ willingness to take on a time-intensive community service project fresh out of college.
“He demonstrates the character and the end product that we want to see from all of our students in our school system,” Smith said. “He’s really committed to his community.”
Meyers plans on delivering the desk caddies to Huntington Middle School in mid-December before students leave for Christmas break.