• Elaine Dumas remembers students in her son’s class as she studies the quilt they made for Bill Hughes when he was their principal at Murphy Elementary School.
    Elaine Dumas remembers students in her son’s class as she studies the quilt they made for Bill Hughes when he was their principal at Murphy Elementary School.

SCOUTING AROUND: Murphy Elementary quilt resurfaces at thrift store

   The minute she walked into the Re-Seller Thrift Store, Elaine Dumas knew the quilt hanging in the front entryway was the same one that used to hang in Murphy Elementary School.
    She remembered her son, Chuck, bringing home his square so he could work on stitching an image of himself on the swim team. She looked through the squares, some showing memories of class trips, some of holidays and some showing favorite activities from class, each with a student’s initials in the bottom right corner – except for one.
    “Chuck’s was real easy to find because it says ‘Chuck’ on it,” she said.
    January Roskelly, who is in charge of distribution at the thrift store, said the quilt was donated about two years ago. She knew it was special as soon as she saw it.
    “I didn’t quite know what to do with it,” she said. “I just feel an appreciation for it, and I have nothing to do with it.”
    So she put it away in a closet for safekeeping.
    As August began, Roskelly considered creating a back-to-school window display and using the quilt as a centerpiece. However, she thought the sun might damage the quilt, so she decided to hang it in the entryway instead.
    She has since seen a couple of men tear up as they look at the quilt, learning from Dumas that it was from Murphy Elementary.
    Even after talking to her son, Dumas could not provide much more information about the quilt. She even brought over the 1987 Murphy High School yearbook to match up initialed squares with students and their personalities.
    Then former Murphy Elementary School principal Bill Hughes was informed of the quilt and visited the store. He recognized it as the same one the class presented to him in the early 1980s as a goodbye gift before they headed off to middle school. He said the quilt was displayed in the hallway at the school before being moved to his office for a while. “It was a big surprise to us,” said his wife, Barbara Hughes. “He was very pleasantly surprised.”
    She taught in the school, and remembered the class gifting him the quilt with squares showing whatever memories they wanted to share.
    “It was a really good group of kids,” Ms. Hughes said, noting the 81 squares show the entire class participated in the project.
    She remembered last seeing the quilt being passed around for display in classrooms for a while, but can only guess how it ended up getting donated to the store. “It obviously just got folded up and moved somewhere,” Ms. Hughes said.
    She hopes members of the class – and their parents – stop by to see the quilt, and that it spurs up fun memories.
    Roskelly plans to have the quilt on display through the end of the year, when she would like to donate it to the Cherokee County Museum for long-term display. Ms. Hughes said she and her husband would love to see the piece of Murphy Elementary history in the local museum. “It belongs to the community,” Roskelly said. “It doesn’t belong to us.”
    The Re-Seller Thrift Store supports the Hurlburt-Johnson Friendship House homeless shelter through its sales. Anyone wishing to view the quilt may visit the store at 1335 U.S. 64 W. in Murphy.

Community supports family after house fire
    On Aug. 21, one Hiwassee Dam family lost their home in a fire, but found the community is full of people willing to help within hours.
    “The support has been tremendous,” said Peggy Hamby, whose daughter, son-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter were able to get out the home with just the clothes they were wearing.
    According to Chief Chad McNabb, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office arrived first, reporting a working structure fire. The Hiwassee Dam, Ranger, Culberson, Wolf Creek and East Polk (Tenn.) volunteer fire departments – as well as Cherokee County Emergency Medical Services – responded to the fully involved structure fire.
    Many in the area learned about the fire from a social media post by the Hiwassee Dam Fire Department requesting donations for the family be dropped off at Hiwassee Dam High School. McNabb said as a community fire department they usually do ask for assistance for fire victims, but this post seemed to go viral. The post was viewed more than 24,000 times and shared 604 times in just over two days.
    “It is especially difficult for our firefighters when there is a loss of property but we can rejoice in the fact everyone went home alive and the family escaped with their health,” McNabb said.
    “I feel a sense of accomplishment that our post was shared and viewed so many times, and that we were able to provide an amount of relief to this family ... The generosity of our neighbors never stops amazing me.”
    While the fire department’s post never mentioned the family by name, McNabb added that the family is well known, as the wife works in the school system and the husband is a lifelong resident of the community.
    Hamby said the family already has been given plenty of clothes, toys and other items, and has even been offered homes. As people found out it was her daughter, Hamby said they started contacting her, asking how they can help and if there was a way to donate funds.
    “It’s unbelievable the outreach of people who have texted and called,” Hamby said.
    Although the couple has not asked for anything, Hamby set up a donation fund at United Community Bank for anyone who wishes to help financially. Checks should be made out to Tristan or Jacob Hamby.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.