WHS alum honored at White House
by Anna Oakes
A 1996 graduate of Watauga
High School is among 12 parents to be honored as “Champions of Change” at the White
The program recognizes “extraordinary
parents (who) have devoted their time and effort to their PTA chapters across the
Mandy Patterson now lives in Raleigh, where she serves on the Parent-Teacher Association at Oak Grove Elementary, but she grew up in Boone and attended Anderley Academy and later Watauga High School. She also attended Appalachian State University, which is where she met her husband, Chris.
Patterson’s brother and his family still reside in Boone.
“We still go up a lot,” she said.
The mother of three children — Katelyn, Zachary and Brandon — Patterson has served on the PTA at Oak Grove Elementary in Raleigh since 2008, acting as treasurer, president and vice president of fundraising and family nights, the post she currently holds.
She has chaired or served on the majority of committees at Oak Grove for the past four years.
And in 2009, Patterson founded a children’s charity, Pajama Pals, which has
collected and distributed nearly 75,000 new and used books and new pajamas to underprivileged
children in North Carolina.
Patterson said she was inspired to start Pajama Pals after learning about a similar program on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She contacted a local chapter of the program to get involved, but soon realized that not all community needs were being met.
“They all needed pajamas, toiletries — they needed basic things,” she said, and “for a lot of kids, it was the first time they had a book that was theirs to keep.”
The Pattersons’ garage — and a donated storage unit — are filled with donated items for the program.
“It got kind of
crazy around here,” she said.
On Black Friday, Patterson hits the stores in the wee hours of the morning with the money donated to the program, looking for deals on pajamas and other needed items.
“Our busiest time is Christmas,” she said.
Patterson, her husband and her daughter will take a tour of the White House East Wing today and participate in a briefing with Department of Education officials. She will also participate in a public question-and-answer session.
“It’s just exciting,” Patterson said. “The PTA is huge at our school; it’s just a great team of people who work together.”
For more information, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.