During his years as a school principal, Ray Oxendine combined the roles of disciplinarian, organizer and nurturer in managing the schools and students entrusted to him.
A decade later, little has changed.
The 74-year-old former Scotland High School principal is still helping others — whether it’s mowing the lawn for a sick neighbor or volunteering with the American Red Cross of Scotland and Robeson counties.
It was that volunteer work that has given Oxendine some recent national exposure. He will appear on the cover of the 2012 American Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog.
The cover came from an incident last year while Oxendine was deployed to Wilson following Hurricane Irene.
A shelter there, manned by Oxendine and other volunteers including Scotland County’s Dinah Veler, housed 150 people affected by the hurricane. Krispy Kreme sent over 15 dozen doughnuts and a large package of doughnut holes, rousing an inquisition from five-year-old Margarita Chavez.
“That little girl came up and said what is that,” said Oxendine, who could not pass up such a teachable moment.
“I picked up a donut and said that donut has a hole in it and they didn’t throw the hole away, they kept it. I asked her if she’d ever heard the donut song.”
The child hadn’t. Oxendine’s response, sung a Capella, went something like this:
“I went to the bakery shop to get some things to eat
I was oh so hungry from my head to my feet
And I picked three doughnuts right out of the grease
And I handed the lady a five cent piece.
Well, she looked at the nickel and she looked at me
And she said, ‘This nickel’s no good, you see
There’s a hole in the middle and it goes right through.’
I said, ‘Oops, there’s a hole in the doughnuts, too.’
Thanks for the doughnuts,
Margarita was “spellbound,” Oxendine said
Little did Oxendine know, but the exchange was witnessed by media representatives from the American Red Cross office in Washington, D.C. They snapped a photo of Oxendine and Margarita, which will appear on the catalog cover.
“For him to be on the front of this catalog that’s actually a giving catalog is just a perfect fit,” said Carol Ann Lentz, executive director of the American Red Cross of Scotland and Robeson counties. “He gives so much of himself that for him to be on the front of that catalog for others to see how they can help the Red Cross mission is just a perfect match.”
Oxendine, who lies in Maxton, began working with the Red Cross in 2005, when the organization put out a call for volunteers to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“When they need somebody, they call me - if I’m available I go,” the Pembroke native said. “One of the worst situations I experienced was when I went up to Bertie County when the tornado came through. About 12 people were killed in that county, and dealing with people who have lost family members was a tough situation.”
Since Katrina, Oxendine has deployed to disaster areas half a dozen times, and deploys on Wednesday to a shelter for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“He believes in the mission, he is very focused on what needs to be done,” Lentz said. “I was very fortunate to work with him in a shelter several years back for tropical storm Hanna, and he’s just very unassuming. He’s there, he knows the job that needs to be done, and he gets it done.”
Oxendine never imagined that his work with the Red Cross would lead once again to his role as an example for others to follow.
“I had no idea that would ever happen,” he said. “If that can be a model for other people to get involved and help out when they get a chance to do so, that’s very good.”