Lamar-Spaulding Elementary School Thanks Panthers for Book Bag Donations
By Stephan Drew, Editor
Lamar-Spaulding Elementary School was the scene of a rollicking “Thank You” celebration rally on Wednesday, August 17 and the cafeteria was filled to near-capacity for the event. Seated on the floor and against the walls, waving bright blue pom-poms, the children’s exuberance was palpable. Representatives, cheerleaders and the mascot from the Carolina Panthers were visiting and the kids couldn’t contain their excitement. The adults in attendance had a hard time composing themselves as well as Thing 1 and Thing 2 were unleashed amidst the crowd, creating lively amusement for those gathered.
They were all here to thank the Carolina Panthers, as well as other organizations who donated 5,000 bookbags filled with school supplies to elementary students in Darlington County.
As administration, faculty and staff danced before them and mingled throughout the audience, Riley Fields, Community Relations Director for the Carolina Panthers, hosted the boisterous event. As he introduced Sir Purr, the Panthers’ mascot, the children screamed with excitement. Sir Purr helped Fields direct the student/teacher dance contest, the obstacle course and reminded the children of 2 important lessons for physical and mental health – Move for 60 minutes and read for 20 minutes every day.
Five of the students – Karston Hanna, Casey Hardaway, Sophia Knotts, Angel Blythers and Roderick Watts – strutted down the catwalk, modelling some of the donated bookbags for the crowd.
Darlington County School Superintendent Tim Newman remained in the midst of the excitement the whole time. Seeming just as thrilled as the students, he could be seen running and jumping among them, eliciting fist bumps and squeals of laughter from the students. Later, he explained why this was so important. “To have a student walk in to class and know that they have the supplies that they need in order to start right, that is so important. So many want to start right but they don’t have the tools they need.”
Newman also expressed his extreme gratitude for these items, “This is an incredible gift and we can’t thank the Panthers Organization enough.” When asked how it all came about, Newman said, “This was kind of a random phone call one afternoon a couple of weeks before school started. They said, ‘Hey, would Darlington County School District be interested in some backpacks and school supplies? ‘ We said, ‘Yea, we usually have churches and local organizations donate about 100 bags here or 100 bags there.’ When we heard 5,000, we were just blown away.” Newman went on to say, “We are so excited for every one of our elementary students to have a bookbag and plenty of supplies to start the school year.”
Riley Fields later told me, “Panthers’ owners David and Nicole Tepper are committed to serving the students in our two-state region by equipping them with the resources they need to be successful during the school year. We’re here today to celebrate that program.” When asked for an estimated dollar value of the donations, Fields said, “The number is exorbitant. It is a big number. But, the foundation felt it was more important that each student was supplied with the essentials they need.” Approximately 25,000 bookbags filled with supplies were distributed throughout North and South Carolina by the organizations involved.