KINSTON, N.C. — When a global pandemic shut down the Lenoir County Education Foundation golf tournament in September, organizers and sponsors could have parked the carts, packed up the clubs and hoped for a better day next fall. Instead, they forgot about playing, remembered their purpose and raised $14,000 to help Lenoir County Public Schools with coronavirus-related expenses.
Leaders of the Education Foundation and its parent organization, the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, presented a check representing the continued support of tournament sponsors to LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams on Monday. The donation was received with obvious appreciation and understandable amazement.
“We certainly appreciate the board and the leadership team with the Education Foundation for all they’ve done to make this very substantial and generous donation a reality,” Williams said. “It would be impressive during any year but certainly during this time of pandemic it’s truly outstanding.”
The Education Foundation Superball Tournament was revived three years ago as the primary vehicle for raising funds for mini-grants presented to LCPS teachers. Since 2018, the Education Foundation has distributed $48,681 in grant awards. Because of the disruption to normal classroom instruction this school year, the foundation suspended teacher grants for 2020 and shifted the focus of its fundraising to costs connected to going to school during a pandemic – sanitation supplies, personal protective equipment and hotspot devices that give students internet access for remote learning.
“Although the 2020 Lenoir County Education Foundation Golf Tournament was not able to be held as an in-person event last year, it was held in spirit,” said Judy Jones, immediate past chair of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chair of the foundation’s Golf Tournament Committee. “I give a huge ‘thank you’ to the sponsors who donated to make this fundraiser such a success. Together we do make a difference!”
In all, 19 Lenoir County businesses and institutions that had previously sponsored – and often fielded teams to play in – the annual superball tournament contributed to the 2020 campaign.
Sponsors and their sponsorship designation were: Commencement Sponsor – Down East Protection Systems; High School Sponsors – Lenoir Community College, State Farm Agents Judy Jones, Keith Thompson and Wil Hardy; Hole-in-One Sponsor – Sale Auto Mall; Middle School Sponsors – Tands, Truist/BB&T Bank, UNC Lenoir Healthcare and Union Bank; Elementary School Sponsors – Crown, First Citizens Bank, Lenoir County Fair Association/The Beauty Box and Servpro of Lenoir, Jones and Duplin counties; Pre-K Sponsors – Jake A. Parrott Insurance and Kinston Realty Group; Hole Sponsors – Allstate (Chris Humphrey), Brenda and John Canup and Brown Orthodontics; and In-Kind Sponsors – Herald’s Office Solutions and The Free Press.
“The Golf Tournament Committee worked together to contact our past sponsors to support a fundraiser to benefit Lenoir County Public Schools. 2021 continues to present with difficult circumstances for teaching and learning,” Jones said.
Currently, about 60 percent of LCPS students are physically at school either two or four days a week and about 40 percent of students are fully remote. The Education Foundation donation should benefit both groups, according to Craig Hill, executive director of Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce.
“Through the work of the Golf Tournament Committee, the foundation was able to raise significant dollars to assist Lenoir County Public Schools with needed hotspot internet connections for students and supplies to keep our students and teachers safe in the school environment,” Hill said.
“On behalf of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce we are grateful to our community for supporting the Education Foundation. Our community’s response during these difficult times has simply been outstanding.”
In September, the Education Foundation donated $3,145 to LCPS to help offset similar coronavirus-related expenses.
“We appreciate their extra effort in support of instruction and to make extra opportunities for students in our classrooms a reality,” Superintendent Williams said Monday.