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Pilot Club gives a helping hand

On Wednesday, James "Buddy" Moore, the Alabama Chair for the American Red Cross, recognized the Pilot Club of Troy for exceptional service to the American Red Cross Pike County Chapter.

The award is a state award and automatically qualifies the service organization for the national award.

Part of what makes the 40-member Pilot Club so valuable to the Red Cross is their ability to make blood bags.

Only 35 people in Pike County are certified to make blood bags.

Twenty bag makers belong to the Pilot Club.

"We volunteer at all the blood drives," said Helion Motes, who also heads up fund raising for the group.

"Making the blood bags and going to the blood drives is how we were nominated for the award."

But the Pilot Club does a lot more than support their local Red Cross.

The club is a service organization and their service reaches far and wide.

Brain disorders are the main focus of the club.

To promote their issue, members started a program called Brain Minders.

Members have visited schools for the past two years teaching students about protecting their brain.

"We have a book that we take and we tell them how to be safe and how to protect their brain," Motes said.

"We teach them to wear helmets when they ride their bikes and other things like that."

The Pilot Club stays active in the schools and provides much-needed personnel and financial support.

Each year, club members take handicapped students on a Spring Fling.

They've been to Montgomery and Dothan, but this year the group will stay close to home and visit Murphree Park "because that's what they wanted to do."

"We try to do whatever the teachers and the students want to do," Motes said.

The Pilot Club also helps special education teachers furnish their rooms with specialized equipment.

Last year, the club purchased a standing table each for Troy Elementary and Charles Henderson High School.

"It's good therapy," Motes said.

"It helps them change to a different position besides sitting.

A lot of the children have leg problems and standing up is good therapy for their legs."

Once a child is secured to the table, the student is able to "stand" and do activities such as painting or drawing.

"Whatever they determine they need, we'll put it into our budget for the year and purchase it for them," Motes said.

The Pilot Club also sends handicapped children from local schools to a two-week summer camp.

Motes said they try to rotate the school systems each year.

The Pilot Club also does a great deal for the community through its Medical Discretionary Fund.

"If people can't pay for their medicine for the month, we'll give them money to help them with it," Motes said.

The group also uses it for other medical-related purposes such as buying gas for someone who has to go to Montgomery for medical treatment.

"We're always looking into the community to see what we can do to help," she said.

"We try not to duplicate what others are doing.

Instead we try to find a need that is not being filled."

Not wanting to leave out any community aspect, the Pilot Club sponsors six people at Pike Manor who don't have any local family to support them.

But members don't just visit them on holidays or birthdays.

"We pay for all their medicines and pick up the difference after insurance," Motes said.

She said the club takes pride in its hands-on community involvement because "anyone can write a check."

Though they may not get anything more than a thank you for all their efforts, it's enough.

"We were put in this world for the purpose to serve other people, just like we serve our God, and you do that through serving others," Motes said.