Arts & Entertainment

Ocracoke School PTA gets large donation from disaster relief volunteers

Ocracoke School PTA President Laura McClain, right, gets a group photo with Ocracoke School students and Susan Peoples and Onie Mae, who donated $6,000 to the PTA. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

Susan Peoples was so charmed by Ocracoke when she volunteered to help with Hurricane Dorian relief that she wanted her home community to help the island further, and the church came through with an unexpected sum.

Peoples, who lives in Louisburg, Franklin County, told her church congregation at the Louisburg Baptist Church about the flooding devastation she witnessed as part of her three weeks with Baptists on Mission.

Though she has been helping with disaster relief for the last 14 years after having first helped with Hurricane Katrina, this was her first time visiting Ocracoke.

“I just asked them to help with a donation,” she said about her church. “I thought we’d get a couple of hundred dollars, but we have a very generous congregation.”

When the donations were tallied, the total was about $6,000.

Peoples had gotten to know PTA President Laura McClain and decided the sum should go to the Ocracoke School PTA.

PTA Vice president Allison O’Neal, right, gives gifts to Susan Peoples, left, and Onie Mae. Photo: C. Leinbach

Last Wednesday, Peoples, who was accompanied by her friend Onie Mae of Youngsville, presented the money to McClain and Ocracoke second- third- and fourth graders on the school playground.

“I told them the school won my heart and we need to help them,” Peoples said about the plea to her fellow church-goers. “We usually have different organizations that we help but after they saw how I came back and was so humbled and fallen in love with these kids….This is just a unique life.”

The unexpected gift has helped keep the PTA on track with its fundraising, McClain said.

The annual Halloween carnival is the PTA’s big fundraiser for the year but this year’s version on Oct. 30 was much abbreviated and was basically just a party for the kids.

“We usually make $8,000 to $10,000 from the carnival,” McClain said. “So, this donation will really help.”

McClain said the two brought other donations to other people they met when they were here.

McClain asked the gathered students what they thought the PTA does. After a few wrong answers, McClain said the PTA gives money to all the teachers for things they need for their classrooms.

“And then we also give a scholarship to a high school graduate,” she said.

Money also goes to pay for the Christmas program, which will be combined with the community program on Dec. 14 in the Berkley Barn.

“We always have goodies at Christmas,” she continued. “And we also help out celebrate our Teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.”

The congregation went a step further, Peoples said, and hand made cards.

“We have cards for every class in pre-K through 12, even the staff and even the PTA,” she said.

The children cheered the two women.

“This is only the beginning,” Peoples told the group. “We will be back. We’re working on Christmas.”

Susan Peoples greets fourth-grader Stephanie Flores at Ocracoke School. Photo: C. Leinbach