Santee-Lynches asks residents to support their school district through social media challenge


All residents of Sumter, Clarendon, Kershaw and Lee counties are encouraged to show support for their school district by taking part in a Mask for Class social media challenge on Wednesday.

Sumter School District will compete with five other districts in this all-day event to receive personal protective equipment from Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments.

"My team, we're always evaluating, 'How can we add value to our local area?' So, we started supplying PPE to local areas, and we made some profits off of that," said Chris McKinney, executive director of the Santee-Lynches COG. "We wanted to do something good because we don't make money for the sake of making money."

The Santee-Lynches team came up with the social media challenge to support local schools because they are a critical part of the economy and community, McKinney said.

"We just want to do our part to support the schools because we believe in the school system," McKinney said.

All participants have to do is post a photo of themselves wearing a face mask on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and caption the name of their school district, tag @santeelynches and use the hashtags #MasksForClassChallenge and #SanteeLynchesMasksForClassChallenge to be counted. Social media posts must be made public.

Every school district that takes part can win PPE for its students, staff and faculty and receive up to 4,000 masks. One photo will equal 10 masks to be donated. Anyone can participate to support their school district.

"COVID, it's had a lot of negative impacts on a lot of people," McKinney said. "For us, we're trying to find opportunity in the midst of the storm."

McKinney said the school district with the most overall posted photos will win a free cleaning of one school, thanks to USUV Clean, and 1,000 face shields.

"We really believe in schools. Economic development starts in the school system, and we understand that, and part of what we do is support economic development. This is a key part of what we can do to help our own selves and our local regions."

McKinney said they don't normally do social media challenges like this, but this first-time social media challenge was part of Santee-Lynches' way of adapting to the new normal and continuing to serve regional communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also saw this as an opportunity to bring something positive out of the pandemic and support those who continue to work through difficult times.

"Our teachers, I take my hats off to teachers, educators and administrators," McKinney said. "This is a chance to show our support for those educators and administrators to show that we stand with you, and this is a small token of our appreciation for what you do for us and the impact you have on our region."

The social media challenge will last all day on Wednesday, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. The school district winner will be announced on Friday via Facebook Live at 4 p.m.

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