LUMBERTON — Rain didn’t stop middle school teacher Sheila Hammonds from winning big Thursday at the Leap Back to Learning event.
Hammonds won a pickup truck bed full of school supplies for L. Gilbert Carroll Middle School during the event at Twin Oaks Shopping Center to celebrate teachers and professional staff members in Robeson County’s schools .
“I was shocked,” Hammonds said. “I don’t know what to say. It’s exciting.”
Hammonds, a special needs teacher, said she’s glad that she has the chance to bring something back to her students when they return on Monday. The supplies will be delivered to the school today.
Local educators gathered in the rain as The United Way of Robeson County held its Leap Back to Learning event. More than 40 door prizes were given out. Among the prizes were gift cards, backpacks, Girl Scout cookies, bedding and a free oil change.
Music was provided at the beginning of the evening by Don Chase, of radio station WKML. He had to leave early because of the rain.
Paul Locklear, principal of Oxendine Elementary in Maxton, said he made sure most of his teachers would be at the event to win for the school. There were 24 teachers representing the school and he planned their open house around the event.
Most of the educators were coming from open houses and were excited about the upcoming school year and winning prizes for their school.
“I appreciate these giveaways. I know it’s hard for some students to get schools supplies,” said Merri Sayler, a teacher at South Robeson High School in Rowland.
Beth Wilson, from Janie C. Hargrove Elementary, said this will be her first year teaching in the classroom. She home-schooled her children for years and was excited about the new students she met during her school’s open house and about being at Leap Back to Learning.
“It’s great to see how this community supports education,” Wilson said.
The event is more than fun, prizes and music, said JoAnne Branch, of United Way of Robeson County. It’s a chance to show support for and to honor educators from all county schools, public and private.
“This event is for educators because it is in appreciation of educators and professional staff,” Branch said.
United Way also staged an information fair featuring partner agencies, including Communities in Schools; Robeson County Partnership for Children; UNCP Healthy Start; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; Boys and Girls Club; Robeson Family Counseling Center; My Refuge; Lumberton Christian Care; Southeastern Family Violence Center; Rape Crisis Center; Southeastern Hospice; and Hospice House.
Educators had the chance to meet these local partners and gain knowledge that they can use with their students in the upcoming year.
“I’m getting a lot of information that I didn’t know and I think more people should come out,” said Belinda Coleman, an educator who works with Academically and Intellectually Gifted students.
“I like to support United Way because they support us,” said Rose Freeman, a culinary arts teacher at Lumberton High School.
For information about how to support the United Way of Robeson County, contact Executive Director Latricia Freeman at 910-739-4249, or go to www.unitedwayrobeson.org.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-416-5865.