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Ayden volunteer delivers positive message for New Year

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Darlene Pollard


Jake Keator
The Times Leader

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

AYDEN — An Ayden woman known for her collard eating and her volunteer work is setting a positive example and has a positive message for the New Year. 

Darlene Pollard is known around Ayden for her continuous volunteer work, helping those in need throughout the community. She helped to start the local food pantry, Ayden Christian Care Center.

“Anybody that needs help that I know of (I want to help),” Pollard said.

Pollard, who was born just outside Ayden and moved into town in 2006, sees volunteering as her calling.

“I just volunteer my time. I am a servant of God. I do what God allows me to do,” Pollard said.

Along with her time at the Ayden Christian Care Center, where she packs meals for those in need, she volunteers at the local nursing home and helps those who are sick.

She cooks meals at the homes of people she meets through her work at the center and elsewhere.

Her favorite meal for those who are sick?

“I cook some mean collard greens,” Pollard said with a smile.

Pollard’s history with collard greens goes back to her arrival in Ayden in 2006.

“I saw the contest and thought, ‘Pollard. Collard. It’s a synonym.’ I told myself I was going to be the world champion female collard eating queen. Then I looked at the man next to me and said, ‘You’re going to be the king,’ and I was right,” she said of Ayden Collard Festival’s annual collard eating contest.

Pollard ate 6.5 pounds of collards that day, one of the many reasons she is such a recognizable face around the town.

While she may no longer compete in collard eating contest, she continues her work assisting Ayden residents. Pollard feels a sense of pride in her volunteer work.

“It gives me a warm feeling inside,” Pollard said of volunteering.

Through her work, Pollard aims to bring the Ayden community closer together, to unite residents no matter their background, race or status, she said.

“We all have God’s DNA. I want to bring the town together. Some people say it’s about race, I don’t believe that, we are all God’s children,” Pollard said.

What makes Pollard such a recognizable face, besides her collard-eating and volunteer work, is her lively personality.

“I am a comical person, I like to make people laugh and have a good time,” Pollard said.

It is hard to miss Pollard on the street, as she says hello and talks to everyone she passes, making sure they are having a good day and leaving them with a simple, “God bless.”

Her personality was on display at the Ayden Christmas parade in December. Pollard was a hit dancing on a float and spreading Christmas cheer to all she passed. Her energy is infectious, brightening the day of all she meets.

“If I meet a stranger (they are a stranger) for one second. I try to meet as many people as possible. I love people,” Pollard said, adding she believes that it is important to get out and volunteer in ones community due to the effect it has on others.

“Do something good, don’t be negative. Do something to actually help somebody. I love what I do, I love my calling.”

The Times Leader covers southern Pitt County including the towns of Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.