LUMBERTON — It’s payback time at Lumberton High School.
The school was the beneficiary of donations of money and supplies after Hurricane Matthew slammed into Robeson County in October 2016. This year, Lumberton High’s students are demonstrating the same generosity, and the beneficiary happens to be Lumberton High School, but this one is in a Texas town with the same name.
The school in Texas was in the path of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
“We knew that it was Houston that really got flooded bad, so we were looking for a school similar to us in size in Houston,” said Adrian Hammonds, a guidance counselor at the Robeson County school. “Just by chance, we happened to come across something that said Lumberton High School in Texas.”
The school traditionally puts on a community service event each Christmas season, so the opportunity to help its namesake in Texas fit well into the calendar. However, their motivation to hold the drive came from experience.
After Hurricane Matthew swept through the region and displaced many students, the school started a program to help students affected by the storm. Through the Adopt a Pirate program, Lumberton was able to bring in supplies for those students and money that is still being used today.
“With money from last year, we’re paying for driver’s ed, prom, rental computers, trips,” Hammonds said.
That capability came from the flexibility of cash donations, which is why Lumberton wants to provide that same luxury to its namesake.
“Money tied with the school is all red tape, it’s hard to get out,” Hammonds said. “I can’t just go to the principal and say give me $200 or $300 because I want to pay for three kids for driver’s ed. Money like this that has flexibility, the counseling department at Lumberton High School will be able to go buy a girl a jacket, they’ll be able to go pay for prom, pay for the SAT.”
The penny drive was a competition between all four grade levels. Each grade had a five-gallon jug in the school’s hallway in which students could drop change before classes or during breaks.
The amount of change donated by each grade level will be counted during winter break. Hammonds hopes to be able to announce the winner on the first day of classes in January.
The winning grade level will be entered into drawings for prizes. Those rewards include 10 $10 gift cards, five $20 cards, two $50 cards and one $100 card.
Hammonds said the students’ motivation for contributing to the drive is based on more than the prizes. After experiencing the effects of Hurricane Matthew, they know how helpful it can be to have a strong network of support in difficult times.
“That was the start for the children,” Hammonds said. “Remember how we got help. Remember how everywhere we went there was water. Remember how there was food everywhere. I can tell the kids connected. We got a lot of help, let’s try to help someone else.”