WEST COLUMBIA, SC -- Lexington Two’s students returned to classes this week, ready to tackle the new school year.
Their readiness was thanks in part to the generosity of Lexington County churches, businesses and community organizations, whose members stepped in to help students and teachers fill needs through school supply and snack pack drives and other initiatives.
Those drives included one organized by Southern First Bank that brought in more than $12,000 to help feed children in need from Cayce Elementary.
Employees at Southern First, on Knox Abbott Drive, have participated in various efforts to benefit the school, including collections for winter blankets, markers and other items, said Scott Bailey, executive vice president for mortgage at Southern First.
“Once we learned about the statistics of the school and the amount of kids living below the poverty line,” Bailey said, “we were committed to doing something.”
Bailey said bank employees came up with the idea this summer to sell barbecue plates for a “Feeding the Future” fundraiser, with the money going to help fund weekend packs filled with food through the Harvest Hope Backpack Program.
“We discussed some different ways the bank could help and felt like feeding the kids would have the biggest impact and would be a great project for our Knox Abbott team,” Bailey said.
That giving spirit spread throughout the community.
“We reached out to Lloyd Bessinger at Piggie Park and Mark Price with Mill Pond restaurant (both Southern First clients) and told them what we were trying to do. They both graciously agreed to help us. We began selling tickets right after the Fourth of July and sold them up to the day before the event, which was Aug. 10. We delivered about 170 plates to area businesses that agreed to buy at least 20 plates a piece. The rest of the plates were to be picked up from our Knox Abbott office.
“Not only did we sell more than 450 plates,” Bailey said, “we had more people than expected make donations to the cause. This enabled us to raise $12,200 -- which is double what we had hoped to generate.”
That will be enough to supply food backpacks to nearly 45 kids.
“We are glad to help and look forward to doing more,” Bailey added.
A sampling of some of the other drives that benefitted Lexington Two students and teachers at the start of the new school year:
-- The Pine Ridge and West Columbia police departments held supply drives; West Columbia’s teamed up with the city of West Columbia and Turner Memorial AME Church.
-- West-Columbia based Allied Air raised funds and purchased school supplies, which were donated to Saluda River Academy for the Arts.
-- Home Depot, Flex and Transfiguration Lutheran donated school supplies to Cayce Elementary; and Trinity Church (West) and Springdale Baptist donated supplies to Springdale Elementary.
-- Davis Orthodontics donated car rider tags at Springdale Elementary, as well as lunch to Northside Middle faculty and staff, with potted plants in coffee cups saying, “Teachers Plant the Seeds of Learning.”
-- Filter Chiropractic donated 61 backpacks to Riverbank Elementary, while TNT Martial Arts & Fitness donated supplies to Riverbank Elementary and Herbert A. Wood Elementary.
-- WoodmenLife Insurance donated US and SC flags as well as a flagpole to Riverbank Elementary, along with 120 US flags for classrooms.
-- Palmetto GBA donated roughly $2,500 to help pay off lunch debt at Congaree Elementary.
“It makes me proud to be part of a community with such concern and caring for our students and schools,” said Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. William James Jr.