Eggs and Pencils: Young people come up with creative ways to show respect

Published 10:05 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

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“Davie County is the perfect size for a movement like the Davie Respect Initiative (DRI). Because it is a smaller county, we will feel the impact of the DRI right away.”

– Terry Bralley, president of DC Economic Development Commission in 2018

Meet two young ladies who are already having a big impact in Davie County.

Ava Brown and Riley Barnes were awarded Ambassadors of Respect on Wednesday, May 11 at the County Administration Building. Interim County Manager Mike Ruffin and County Commissioners James Blakley and Terry Renegar presented the two with certificates and $1,000 checks for their creative ideas and projects on how to enhance respect in Davie County.

Ava Brown and family accept her award.

Ava Brown is a 13-year-old seventh grader at William Ellis Middle School.

“I have always been the kind of person to see a problem and want to find a way to fix it,” she said. “This comes along with my trait of being very observant. If I see something that needs to be done, I just do it.”

Ava saw a video about the Respect Initiative in one of her classes at Ellis and she began to think about ideas for a project and then almost like a sign, a kid approached the teacher and said he needed a pencil. According to Ava, this happens several times a week and it is not only disruptive to the class, but the teachers are supplying the pencils with their own money.

The lightbulb went on and the idea of “Pencils for Peers” was born.

Ava has been collecting cash donations as well as receiving actual pencil donations. She already has 650 pencils and her goal is to provide 700-1,000 pencils to each school in Davie County; her plan right now is to distribute the pencils quarterly.

Setting up a GoFundMe page and getting set up on the Amazon wish list are also part of her marketing plans.

“I am hoping to reach out to local businesses so everyone has the opportunity to support our DCS students and take part in this movement. I am ready to hit the ground running with this project and incredibly excited to see how this makes an impact on Davie County Schools students and teachers.

“A box of pencils every quarter may not seem like much to the average person, but to teachers, it is a box full of opportunity, growth, and improvement. Mrs. Bost, my social studies teacher, was so excited to know that I actually came up with this idea in her classroom. She is such a caring and giving soul and she is who I think of when I say I want to give back to the teachers who would do anything or give anything for their students even if that pencil she lent that day was hers. I am so thankful and blessed to be able to give back to her and many other teachers through this project.

“If I had to suggest one word for everyone to live by, it would be respect. Respect is the act of listening to the concerns of others and responding to those concerns with kindness and compassion.”

Meet our second impressive Ambassador of Respect, Riley Barnes – a 12-year-old sixth grader at Ellis who decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to raise chickens to sell eggs to give her something to do over the summer.

Last year she sold close to 7,000 eggs and she donates part of her profits to help others.

Stephen and Tracey Barnes, Riley’s parents, got her started in 2018; they purchased the first 12 chickens and  the house, but the rest of the costs, they told her, would have to come from the profits of selling the eggs.  Riley now has 78 laying hens and she pays for all their feed, scratch, whatever they need.

Giving back and serving others is a family value.

She decided that each year she wanted to take some of the profits and give back to the community and organizations in Davie County. When Riley was 10, besides selling eggs, she grew a sunflower patch in honor of her grandmother.  She sold the sunflowers for a $1 a stem and people came and took pictures in the fields; some even donated money to help her business.  With that money she adopted a single mother with three kids and purchased their Christmas presents.

She actually got the list from the mother and did the shopping.  It was extra special to Riley because the little girl wanted a Bible for Christmas that Riley was able to provide.

Riley has grown zinnias and arranged them in mason jars to cheer up the residents at Bermuda Commons Nursing and Rehab Center.  She donated all the eggs for a fundraising breakfast at her church.  The next year, she made a donation to Just Hope with the proceeds from her egg money, and during Covid she helped out a local man suffering from cancer by providing him with needed supplies and some of his favorite snacks.

“I absolutely love giving back and helping others. Another thing is I really respect and care for my animals. I hope that my project will inspire others to give back or lend a helping hand to people in need; also, to take care of their animals.”

“We cannot say enough positive things about these two young ladies,” said Julia Burazer, one of the Respect Initiative organizers. “They are already making a big difference through their thoughtfulness, creativity and their real interest in serving others. Just look at the smiles on their faces and the determination and light in their eyes and one can see true heart and respect.”

Do you know a young person or Davie County youth group between the ages of 12-21 “doing good, being kind, or showing respect” to people, animals or the environment?  Empower our youth by anonymously nominating them at  The next quarter ends on June 30, the due date for applications. Young individuals as well as DC youth groups can apply on their own or after having been nominated.  SEmail comments or questions to