For over 25 years, the Wilkes County Cruisers have used their enthusiasm for restored cars to help others.

The club, which has monthly cruise-ins the second Saturday of each month at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace in North Wilkesboro from April-November, raised over $40,000 last year. Donations were given to all 22 schools in Wilkes County, and Union Grove Elementary in Iredell County, as well as to Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission, Adult Protective Services/ Department of Social Services, Blue Ridge First in Families, Wilkes Ministry of h.o.p.e., Our House, Samaritan Kitchen of Wilkes, Shepherd’s Household, and Special Olympics.

Their Relay for Life team, “Cruisin’ for a Cure,” raised over $13,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Mike Pennington, club vice-president, said the Cruisers want the cruise-ins to be a family-friendly event. “Anybody can come.” There is no charge to display a car, he said, and there are activities for everyone.

Cruise-ins are open to antique, street rods, classics, pro street, muscle cars, rat rods, military, road tractors and motorcycles.

The Cruisers raise money through selling concessions, 50/50 raffles and cake walks during cruise-ins,  and selling sponsorships and  calendars throughout the year.

Pennington said they have about 60-70 active members and over 300 registered members, including spouses. Memberships are $25 for single or couple.

Depending on the weather and other activities going on in the county, around 200 cars are displayed during the monthly cruise-ins.

Last year, for the first time, an outdoor movie was shown after a cruise-in, which was a big success, Pennington said. Each cruise-in has a different theme.

The club’s latest fundraiser is the auction of a 2002 Buick Rondavo through sealed bids. The car, which is in good condition, has no mechanical or repair problems.

The sealed bids are being accepted through Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. Bids should be mailed to Wilkes County Cruisers, P.O. Box 1461, North Wilkesboro, N.C. 28659. Bidders should write on the envelope, “Car Seal Bid.”  For more information, call Andy Soots, 336-984-7333; Eddie Caudill, 336-927-9589; Gwyn Ellis, 336-928-0663; Manuel Brown, 336-927-0595, or visit .

A lifetime of helping

This week, I attended the funerals of two local women who had both spent their lifetime serving others, Martha Barksdale Nichols and Dorothy (Dot) Lewis, both of North Wilkesboro.

Martha, the wife of artist Ward Nichols, was an artist also. Her “paintbrush,” however, was her beautiful rose garden. A nationally known and award-winning rosarian, Martha had an enormous and well-cultivated backyard rose garden. Her roses were grown to give joy to others and to give away.

In her obituary, her family remarked that before there was a hospice in Wilkes County, there was Martha. Her first husband, Jim Barksdale, died in 1981 after battling cancer. After his death, she made it her mission to reach out to others who were also struggling.

She did it quietly and personally, with phone calls, roses, notes and visits, and always, words of encouragement.

 When my father, the late John W. Hubbard, was ill the last year of his life, he was the recipient of Martha’s “personal hospice.” He appreciated so much her visits, phone calls and beautiful roses.  

Dot Lewis, who died Feb. 3 at age 100, was called many things by those who knew her…..wife, mother, grandmother, sister, great-grandmother, aunt, friend, church member….but I thought of her as “saintly.”

Love, goodness and humility radiated from Dot’s face. Dot, a biochemist with a master’s degree in biochemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill, married Dr. Robert Lewis in 1944, and moved to Wilkes County in 1946. She spent her life serving her family, her church and her community.

In her life, Dot never wanted accolades, but her strong, resilient spirit and deep faith in God touched everyone who knew her.

How meaningful and joyful a lifetime of serving others is!

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