Effort to Benefit Piggott Students
Thanks to a generous donation by Piggott State Bank, and the efforts of community leaders and local educators, the future success of PHS grads got a huge shot in the arm recently with development of Piggott Community Sharing Hearts, Inc. The non-profit organization was recently incorporated for the sole purpose of helping local students at all levels.
"The effort started last fall with an initial donation of $10,000 by the bank," president and CEO Paula Blackwell noted. "We wanted to start a program that would benefit all students of the Piggott District in addition to the scholarships we give out each year. Other communities have done great things, like the Helping Hands at Rector, and we felt there was a need for the students of the Piggott Schools."
Blackwell explained that the paperwork was filed last year, and the group incorporated as a non-profit organization. Last month, the bank donated another $15,000, increasing their total commitment to $25,000.
Friday, Feb. 1, an organizational meeting was held to seat a board of directors and elect officers. "All of the board members are volunteers, so there are no administrative costs," added bank vice president Jim Poole.
Piggott Elementary School counselor Barbara Batey was elected president, Piggott Mayor Gerald Morris was chosen as vice president and PES Parent Center Coordinator Mona Scott was elected secretary-treasurer. The remaining board members are Clay County Judge Gary Howell, PHS Counselor Faith Conley, Paula Benbrook with Piggott Community Hospital, local business owner Kelli Scott-Malin, local farmer Cary Wilson along with Blackwell and Poole representing Piggott State Bank.
"The board will oversee fundraising and dispersion of the funds from Piggott Community Sharing Hearts, and they'll also be responsible for dispersing the Gaylon M. Lawrence Scholarship Fund," Blackwell added.
The fund was established from memorial donations following the death of the longtime owner of the local bank, Pollard area native Gaylon Lawrence.
"We're set to award scholarships to two students this May from PHS," Blackwell noted. "Mr. Lawrence was a strong supporter of education."
She noted that the scholarships will be for a full four years, awarding the students $1,000 per semester as long as they maintained minimum grade point averages.
"We wanted to be able to offer students more than just help for the first semester, and try to see them all the way through to a degree," Poole added.
Although the effort is still in its infancy, the funds have already been put to good use. "We've had to pay filing fees for the articles of incorporation, but have also donated $250 toward the annual fall festival at Piggott Elementary School, $500 toward the purchase of coats, scarves and gloves for students who need them and we paid for the repair of a band instrument that was not covered by insurance," Blackwell noted.
She added that the organization is currently working to establish a higher tax exempt status, which will allow those making donations to get credit for them on their annual income tax returns.
"I am very excited for this group to become a reality," Batey noted. "Sharing Hearts was formed to help meet the needs of students in the Piggott School District and I hope from this humble beginning that it will grow to become a strong asset in this community. There are lots of needs right here at home that I feel can be addressed through Sharing Hearts. It will take on-going effort and hard work in raising money but I am a firm believer that we can make a difference!"
Batey also offered her thanks to Blackwell, and the bank, "I so much appreciate the effort and backing of Paula Blackwell and Piggott State Bank to get this endeavor off and running."
Those wanting more information on the effort, or interested in making a donation, may contact Batey at PES at 870 598-2546 or call the bank at 598-3802.