I was touched at how the students responded. Understanding the value of not only the equipment, but the experience, some of them began to cry. Others raced toward Mr. Carroll to hug him and take selfies with him. All the students thanked him and gave a round of applause.
A former software salesman, Carroll lost his job three years ago and said he asked God how he could help people.
Carroll is the founder of Mark Carroll & Friends, a 501c3 nonprofit, which raises money to meet the needs of local schools under Four Pillars: Teachers Fund, STEM Programs, Scholarship Programs and his annual Toy Drive.
According to the website, “We create events and opportunities to raise money for organizations that we feel are doing exceptional, hands-on work that need more support.”
His philanthropic endeavors had humble beginnings, growing from a decision to host a toy collection drive during a Christmas party he hosted in 2003. That event grew every year. The donation to the Mays band program came out of his desire to help support the needs of students in Atlanta Public Schools.
In pursing his vision, he no longer receives a corporate paycheck.
“Some days I wonder if this is what I really should be doing,” Carroll said. “But I was flabbergasted by the outpouring of love from the students and the gratitude of the children helps me know this is my calling.”