Sometimes a nickel can go a long way.
The nickels and other pieces of change Gaston County School students, staff and administrators collected during their second annual Nickels 4 Neighbors campaign reached all the way to flood-stricken eastern North Carolina on Wednesday, when checks totaling the more than $21,000 were presented to LCPS and three other public school districts in the region.
“We appreciate the opportunity to be involved and to benefit from your generosity," Brent Williams, LCPS superintendent, told Gaston County school leaders and others after receiving a check for $5,400 during the presentation event at the administrative offices of Wayne County Public Schools. "We have had some difficult days of late in our district, like you have here in Wayne County and across our area in the wake of Hurricane Matthew."
Checks for $5,400 also went to school districts in Wayne, Edgecombe and Robeson counties to aid flood relief efforts. Robeson’s presentation was made in Lumberton on Wednesday morning.
On Nov. 4, which was “Nickels 4 Neighbors Day” in Gaston County Schools, students brought in their piggy banks, pencil boxes, and Ziploc bags filled with spare change. Parents, teachers, and other school employees also contributed to the district-wide collection effort. When all of the collecting and counting was complete, the schools raised $21,952.31, which amounts to more than 439,000 nickels.
“That’s a lot of nickels,” Dr. Michael Dunsmore, Wayne school superintendent, said in welcoming the group. “It really blows you away. These types of things really warm your heart.”
Like Wayne and the other counties that benefited from the program, Lenoir County is still dealing with the effects of the October flood, which closed school here for 10 days. More than 200 LCPS students are still displaced and the school district is still busing students from neighboring counties where they are temporarily housed.
Williams praised Gaston schools not only for their empathy but also for their action.
“I’ve always believed leadership involves two things. It begins with opportunity and with intention – to recognize an opportunity to lead and then to express an intention to do something about it,” he said. “We appreciate that you recognized the need and that you sought to do something about it. That means a lot.”
This is the second “Nickels 4 Neighbors” campaign for Gaston County Schools. In October 2015 when historic flooding devastated areas of South Carolina, Gaston’s 32,000 students and 3,800 employees rallied around the idea of collecting money for the schools in Clarendon and Williamsburg counties, which are south of the Florence area. That campaign raised more than $25,000.
“For us, it would have been easy to put the check in the mail,” W. Jeffrey Booker, Gaston’s superintendent of schools, said in Goldsboro. “But for us, it was important to be here and to show our true support and be a part of the community and say we do care.”
In the photo below, LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams, right, accepts a check for $5,400 – the district’s share of the Nickels 4 Neighbors campaign mounted by Gaston County Schools – from Gaston school officials, from left, principals Rebecca Huffstetler and Bryan Denton, members of the district’s Principals Leadership Team that coordinated the campaign; board of education chair Kevin L. Collier; and Superintendent W. Jeffrey Booker.
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