Toole, ambassador for the city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

When Melinda Toole, a student at Samford University in Birmingham, was selected as the first Miss Greater Greenville last year, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the education major and the Miss Greater Greenville Board.

&uot;We have really fallen in love with Melinda this past year…she has been a great representative, and a wonderful ambassador for our city,&uot; says Sue Arnold, director of the Miss Greater Greenville Scholarship Board.

Fellow board member Carol Walters agrees.

&uot;Melinda is a very special person. She’s very genuine and so sweet. It’s been great working with her this year.&uot;

Toole, whose Miss Greater Greenville platform is Character Education, visited several local classrooms during her reign to share that manners do, indeed, matter and good character is a valuable commodity everyone should seek.

(Today, every contestant in the Miss Alabama/Miss America program is required to choose an important community issue they will champion as their cause. The tradition was inspired by Miss America 1988, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, who was a strong advocate of hospice programs. )

The board members believe Toole’s positive influence will be long lasting in the community.

&uot;Listen, Melinda really made an impact on our community’s children. My daughter Jennifer Grace will tell me if I say or do something out of order, ‘Mama, that’s bad character’. She adores Melinda, and I don’t think she will ever forget the lessons she shared,&uot; says sue Arnold.

Melinda’s mother, Ann, grew up in Greenville, which made the winning of the title &uot;that much more meaningful&uot; to the young woman, who hails from north Alabama.

&uot;I am so glad it will be Greenville I will be representing,&uot; she said with a beaming smile during the reception that followed her win last year.

In addition to speaking at schools and clubs, Toole also came to Greenville for a special &uot;Tea with the Queen&uot; at First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center last fall and appeared in the city’s Christmas parade.

The board plans to honor the outgoing Miss Greater Greenville with a cocktail buffet this Friday night.

&uot;That will be Melinda’s special night, a chance for us to talk and cry together… then the rest of the weekend will be devoted to our new queen,&uot; says Arnold. (Toole will go on to compete in Miss Alabama as Miss Trussville 2005.)

The board members plan to take the newly crowned queen to lunch on Sunday &uot;to give us all a chance to get to know each other better.&uot;

&uot;We also want to find out how we can help her on the road to Miss Alabama. These girls really do give a lot back to the community, and we want to help our new Miss Greater Greenville along the way,&uot; explains Arnold.