NEWTON GROVE — With $10,000, media specialist Melanie Spell was able to add more than 540 books to Hobbton Elementary School’s media center.
In the future, Spell, is looking forward to students cracking open the new books, turning pages and exploring a world beyond the school through stories.
“We’ve been fine and that’s OK, but some of our books are getting worn out and out of date,” Spell said. “It was time for new books.”
Hobbton Elementary School recently received a $10,000 grant from South River Electric Membership Corporation’s Operation Round Up, which comes from volunteering customers who round up their bills. The local electric cooperative, provides electric service to more than 43,000 customers in sections of Harnett, Cumberland, Sampson, Johnston and Bladen counties.
The extra change goes towards South River’s Community Assistance Corporation, which awards grants to community organizations and schools.
Spell said it’s been about three years since the school received new books. The need prompted Spell to apply in the summer. After applying, she was hoped for at least $2,000 or $3,000, but received a lot more.
“It was awesome,” Spell said. “I was very excited.”
Hobbton Elementary is a Title I school and receives federal funding to help improve the academic achievement of students facing disadvantages. But support is dwindling. In the past, Spell said the school would get between $3,000 and $5,000 a year for books under the Title I program. Now, most of the money goes towards paying teachers to keep class sizes low.
While applying for the grant, she researched and finding the appropriate books for students and filling voids in subject matters such as science.
“It’s challenging, but I love it and it’s fun,” Spell said. “It’s like a shopping spree.”
Principal Dawn Wilkes said it was a wonderful to receive the money from the electric company, which will benefit the students. She also noted that Spell worked hard at receiving the grant.
“She a great asset to our school,” Wilkes said about her efforts throughout the Title I school. “With Title I you’re limited on what things you can purchase. Our Title I money got cut this year, so we’re not getting as much as we would.”
In addition to books, the school is working to purchase more than 30 new iPads and a charging cart for the devices. The current ones are out of date and can no longer download applications.
Along with Operation Round Up, Spell credited many teachers in the district who seek and benefit from awards such as the local Love of Learning grant, through the Simple Gifts Fund and Bright Ideas, a grant available for teachers at public K-12 certified schools through the electric cooperatives.
“We have some great teachers,” Spell said. “Our staff is awesome.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.