After Thursday, close to 30 volunteers associated with Lowe’s in Sumter would certainly agree with the old adage “helping others helps yourself.”For two days this week, 25 …
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After Thursday, close to 30 volunteers associated with Lowe’s in Sumter would certainly agree with the old adage “helping others helps yourself.”
For two days this week, 25 Lowe’s employees and a few of the store’s contractors gave up their free time — and some, their money — to roll up their sleeves and contribute to a community project to remodel and freshen up a local school.
On Wednesday and Thursday, all descended upon Lemira Elementary School in South Sumter to renovate a front reception and teacher area at the school with new flooring, new bathroom fixtures in a small bathroom, a new kitchen sink, new full-size refrigerator, new microwave oven and a fresh coat of paint, among other items.
The outside entrance area to the school also got some much-needed attention with new shrubbery and plants.
The project fell under the home improvement store’s corporate program called Lowe’s Heroes, where each year every franchise “gives back” to its community by helping a local nonprofit, said Sam Corley of Lowe’s Sumter.
According to Corley, the process worked like this: Last month, Lowe’s called Sumter School District asking which school had the biggest structural needs. District staff said Lemira, and two days later Corley and a couple other Lowe’s employees serving as project leads met with Principal Vanessa Smith-Canty.
Canty told them what she would like remodeled, and the Lowe’s staffers said they would try to make it happen.
Next, Lowe’s specialists reached out to product vendors in their specific areas to see if they would provide supplies for the project, Corley said.
Smartcore donated flooring, Valspar paint and materials, Diamond Cabinetry cabinets, and Delta Faucet donated plumbing supplies. Lowe’s Sumter interior project specialist Maggie Overby, a project lead with Corley, said about $2,500 in supplies were donated by vendors.
The local store was able to match those vendors’ donations with supplies of their own for teachers and their classrooms, Corley said. Those “goodies” were packed in cardboard boxes and included hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, Kleenex, soap, paper towels and Lysol, she said.
Overby said a total of about $5,000 in supplies were donated to the project.
Corley was then able to rally 25 employees and two of the store’s installers/contractors to help out at Lemira this week. Many employees rearranged their work schedules to take either Wednesday or Thursday off to come out and volunteer. She said others volunteered by coming before or after their work shifts on the two days.
By late Thursday afternoon, the volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the remodeling effort, and everyone was all smiles. Corley said doing a school project touched the employees.
“The Lowe’s family, we get the blessing more than we bless others with the projects,” Corley said. “No one in life can say they were not impacted by a teacher.”
The turnout of 25 employees as volunteers was the largest for any Sumter-based Lowe’s Heroes project, according to Corley. She said the turnout was so high partly because some Lowe’s employees attended Lemira as children.
Jason Hubbard, 29, was one of them. He attended kindergarten through second grade at Lemira in the early 1990s.
On Thursday, Hubbard helped lay flooring and helped with cleanup.
A relatively new store hire from April, he said it was great to bond with his new coworkers and help out the community.
“Being able to be part of this and coming together with my community, coworkers and my bosses is a really good bonding experience,” Hubbard said. “This has really and truly been the highlight of my week.”
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