By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce board members don’t ride in a reindeer-pulled sleigh like Santa. Neither do they puff on a pipe or slide down a chimney like he does.
But the latest project approved by the board has principals, students and others at seven Atmore-area schools believing the two just might be the same.
The Chamber’s Atmore Community Fund is distributing various items worth a total of $7,000 — $1,000 each to Atmore Christian, Escambia Academy, A.C. Moore PreK, Rachel Patterson Elementary, Huxford Elementary, Escambia County Middle and Escambia County High.
The principal of each school (or his or her designated spokesperson) even gets to choose the form in which the gift will be presented.
“Our Chamber Foundation has voted to donate $1,000 to each of our area schools,” explained Anna Ellis, executive director of the local business organization. “We asked each principal or vice principal what the needs are for each school.”
Ellis and Chamber board members Andy Gartman, Andrew Garner and Kim Hines were on hand November 15 for the second leg of the seven-part donation, several boxes packed with headphones.
The day before, a Chamber group had fulfilled Rachel Patterson’s holiday wish, for clothing items to stock the school’s clothes closet and other personal items.
“Huxford needed headphones, so they got $1,000 worth of headphones,” said Ellis. “We were at Rachel Patterson yesterday, and they needed clothes. Each principal gets to decide what they need for their school. We’re still waiting on the other schools. As soon as they get back to us, we’ll be able to continue.”
Huxford Principal Leah Fuqua couldn’t hide her excitement over the early Christmas present, which allowed her to save money she had already planned to spend.
“I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled,” she said. “When they asked, I knew immediately what we needed. The need had just come up, and I was fixing to purchase some headphones with some other funds. She (Ellis) offered, and I was, like, ‘oh my goodness, what a blessing.’ I’m very proud.”
Fuqua said the gift included about 700 sets of headphones, enough to give every student in grades 2-6 a new pair and still set some aside for the future.
“The students use i-Ready (reading and math software) every day,” the school’s top administrator said. “They also have to do diagnostics three times a year to check if they’re learning what they’re supposed to be, and in the Spring, they take the state assessment (Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program, or ACAP) test, and it’s all computers and headphones.”