Schools win extra cash from Big Lots

COVINGTON -- Two Newton County schools will get a little extra boost in funding thanks to Big Lots.

The company recently announced that Alcovy High School and Rocky Plains Elementary School won $2,000 in the 2010 Lots2Give contest sponsored by Big Lots. Forty-four others across the United States also took a share of $100,000 in cash prizes.

"Big Lots is dedicated to programs that give back to the communities we serve, and the Lots2Give program allows us to help schools in need of financial support," said Steve Fishman, chairman and CEO, in a press release. "We invited our customers to support an important cause, and it was inspiring to see the overwhelming response the program has received."

In June, three Newton County schools, including Veterans Memorial Middle School, entered for a chance to win up to $10,000 in prizes from the national campaign. They competed against six other schools in Georgia and 190 more from around the United States in the contest.

Big Lots asked participating schools to submit a short video and brief essay explaining why their school is in need of financial support.

From June 7 through July 5, the public voted for their favorite video at www.Lots2Give.com. More than 200,000 votes were cast to determine the 46 winners, which included one $10,000 grand prize to an elementary school in Baldwin Park, Calif., and 45 $2,000 first prizes.

"Thanks to all who voted in our school system and the Newton County community," said Sherri Davis Viniard, director of Public Relations at the Newton County School System. "Thank you for supporting our schools.

Alcovy will use the additional funds to support the arts programs at the school, which are undersupplied or disappearing due to lack of funding. The school hopes to get supplies for its talented artists to improve the program, which officials said have an impact on students, especially those in the at-risk category, and can help them get jobs or get more involved in nonprofit organizations.

Rocky Plains will use its extra money for more COWs -- Computers On Wheels, as the school has more than 950 students with about 225 computers.

"I would like to thank Big Lots for offering this incentive to our schools," said Rocky Plains Principal Miranda Jones. "Our students and staff were able to put together a presentation that addressed our school needs which led to our parents and community supporting a great cause. This opportunity was fun for our students and it helped them realize that we have businesses that support educating our students."

Veterans Memorial was hoping to better support its sports programs at the school, since middle school families now have to pay a fee to participate in middle school sports due to NCSS budget cuts.

Along with the Lots2Give video contest, Big Lots collected in-store donations to help the 192 schools participating in the Lots2Give program. From April 26 through July 5, Big Lots customers were invited to make $1 or $5 donations at participating stores. This initiative raised thousands of dollars to help participating schools, including $60 for Alcovy High.

Big Lots officials will present checks to the winning schools on Friday during a special ceremony at Big Lots, including one at 11 a.m. for Alcovy High at the Covington location and at 1 p.m. for Rocky Plains at the Conyers store on Ga. Highway 20.

Additionally, Saturday is Teacher Appreciation Day at Big Lots, where all educators with proper IDs will receive 10 percent off their entire Big Lots in-store purchase.

Big lots is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and has 1,368 stores in 47 states, including one store in Covington on U.S. Highway 278 in the Kroger shopping center.