GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport school and two South Mississippi organizations are feeling blessed after receiving a generous donation. On the eve of Giving Tuesday, one Coast organization figured what better way to kick-off the celebration than to give away $40,000.
The first check for $10,000 went to the Biloxi Lions Club. The club is known for programs that target vision, hearing, and diabetes problems, especially in children.
"When we first found out about it, we were just shocked, unbelievable. We're grateful, because we know we can put it to good use," said Biloxi Lions Club President Darrell Galey.
The second check for $20,000 will also help improve the lives of today's youth. The money will support the Jenna Robinson Scholarship Fund, named for a D'Iberville teen who loved children and dancing. She passed away in April from epilepsy. Jenna's dad was emotional as he accepted the check.
"Wonderful young lady. We're very proud of her. Jenna had a dream that children who couldn't afford dance would be able to dance. She was very passionate about it," said Paul Robinson.
And the very stage where Jenna once performed will get some much-needed TLC. Central Elementary School in Gulfport received $10,000. Half will go towards refurbishing the stage, mainly the flooring.
"They also need to be redone, refinished to look polished as well, and it'll also help with the sound as students move on and off stage," said Central Elementary Music Teacher Caleb Ford.
The other $5,000 will be used to purchase library books to prepare the students for the state's bicentennial celebration next year. The donations came from the Pati Bannister Foundation. The goal is to promote literacy and the performing arts, and instill in the young students the spirit of Giving Tuesday.
"It doesn't have to be money. It just has to be of your time and talents, and that's what we want to try to do is to educate our youth to actually become really good citizens in our community," said Dan Burton with the Bannister Foundation.
Many people on the Mississippi Coast probably remember Pati Bannister, a well-known regional artist who passed away in 2013. Her foundation has given away hundreds of thousands of dollars all over the world.