With her eyes glued to the plugs and sockets at Roseboro Elementary School, Sonya Powell was enjoying making sure several computers were ready to go Saturday morning.
For Powell, a Sampson County Board of Education member, it was a rewarding experience. Along with several volunteers, she participated in a computer giveaway sponsored by the Gwyn Fisher Turman Scholarship Fund.
“It’s very fulfilling because you see these young people who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to get a computer,” Powell said. “They are just overjoyed, so it really makes it worthwhile.”
Millus Turman, the chief operating officer of the scholarship fund, said more than 5,000 computers have been given to children in the area.
Between 50 and 70 computers were distributed Saturday.
“It’s not only for the young people, but for the households, too,” Turman said. “These computers can be used by everybody in the house. It can help everyone get into the 21st century.”
The organization is named in honor of his late wife. They were married for more than 40 years, before she passed away in 2009. Along with his sister-in-law, Rubestene Fisher Potter, and her husband, Robert Potter, Turman formed a scholarship fund for Roseboro, Sampson County and surrounding areas.
The Rev. Harry Hines, pastor of St. Thomas AME Zion, said the giveaway was a wonderful way to show love and appreciation for her devotion to education.
“I think this is a wonderful way to perpetuate her memory and what she believed in,” Hines attested.
Several community members and organizations made it a success.
Rubestene Potter, president of the scholarship fund, said a partnership was formed with the the Triangle Park Chapter of The Links, Inc. to make the giveaway possible. She said it allows every child of Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School and Roseboro Elementary School to have computers in their homes.
“It levels the playing field for children to compete with children who have this technology in the home,” she said. “So I’m very happy that we have both schools complete.”
Volunteers like David McLaurin of Macs Computer inspected each one before they left the building.
“It’s going pretty well,” McLaurin said while taking a break.
The computers came from Kramden Institute, a nonprofit organization which provides computers to students. CenturyLink was also onsite to help families with securing a low-rate Internet service.
Derek Kelly, Market Development manager for CenturyLink, said research indicates costs associated with computers and the internet results in digital illiteracy.
“Kramden and the Gwyn Fisher Turman Scholarship being able to award those computers crosses off that first barrier of being able to afford the computer itself,” Kelly said. “With CenturyLink Internet basics, that crosses the divide of being able to afford Internet Service.”
Kelly said old computer equipment such as laptops, LCD monitors and cell phones can be dropped off at the local CenturyLink Office, 115 Fayetteville St. in Clinton. Collected items will be sent to Kramden Institute professionals in Durham. Those donations, he said, are vital to the program’s success and being able to put computers in the hands of those who don’t have them.
Members of the Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy also provided assistance. The organization is sponsored by the North Carolina National Guard. Its purpose is to assist at-risk youth.
“That’s what Tarheel ChalleNGe is all about,” said Ron Hedrington, assistant cadre. “This was a good opportunity for them to come out and give back to the community.”
Like many others Jordan Holley, Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy cadet, enjoyed his time Saturday.
“Helping out in the community and giving back to the children is a great thing, Holley said.
Toni Bland of the Triangle Park Chapter of The Links, Inc., said it was rewarding to come back home to volunteer.
“It’s good to see the kids benefit from such an idea program that’s much needed in this area,” she said about Sampson County. “With media and technology advancements today, it’s really good that the kids can start at a younger age. For those who are not as fortunate as others, it can benefit and help them do well in school.”
Tonya Colwell, Roseboro Elementary principal, said the scholarship fund and Kramden has done a wonderful job assisting the students in the school.
“With it being a technology world, every kids needs to have access to a computer and it will help out academically,” Colwell said. “I’m very thankful and appreciative of the vision Mrs. Gwyn had.”
(Chase Jordan can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext.136. Follow us on Twitter @SampsonInd.)