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PRC thanks companies that help provide athletic equipment

After Hurricane Katrina, additional students arriving as evacuees from south of Pearl River County put a strain on Pearl River Central’s athletics programs since funds had be taken from athletics to be used for additional teachers. Then, Companies That Care stepped in.

The non-profit organization went about finding businesses that were interested in helping out Pearl River Central with athletic equipment. Director and founder of Companies That Care, Marci Koblenz, said she went to several businesses and pitched the needs of the schools in Mississippi, and many were willing to step up to the plate and give a hand. In fact, 18 companies pooled their resources together to raise about $48,000 for schools in Mississippi, Koblenz said.

“Even if the immediate crisis was over there were still things that need to be done,” she said.

PJM Interconnection Human Resources personnel Lisa Saeger said her company sold balls used in various sports to raise money, which the company matched. PJM was able to raise about $4,900 in funds for the effort, Saeger said.

On Wednesday, PJM Interconnection and KPMG, two of the companies that helped raise funds for the new equipment, sent representatives to Pearl River Central High School to see where their efforts had gone. While they were at the school, several football and baseball players presented the two companies’ representatives with pictures of each team and a large thank you letter.

The help could not have come at a better time, since the school draws its money from a rural tax base and the amount of taxes collected give the school little room for budget maneuvering, said Nina Guthrie, assistant superintendent for the Pearl River Central School system.

Companies that Care collected a total of $14,037.65 for Pearl River Central. Items purchased with that money included helmets and jerseys for the football team, while batting nets, uniforms, caps and an L screen for pitching practice are on the way for the baseball team.

Pearl River Central Principal Loren Harris said he would like to send pictures to the companies that helped the school to show them how the equipment is being used.

Assistance from Companies That Care is not going to end there, Koblenz said. She would like to get more suggestions from the school on other things the school could use.

Harris mentioned the damage that the band hall suffered, which caused the loss of some instruments and uniforms. Before a final list is formed, Harris said he will gather information from the teachers and activity leaders to get their suggestions, then send a list to Koblenz.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to know there are others out there that pick up on the needs of others,” he said.

The major needs of the school are in the athletic department, because the storm brought additional children who require additional teachers, which cut into a budget that was formed from the previous year’s numbers, Guthrie said. Usually if any budget cuts need to be made, they come from the athletic department first, Gutherie said. Participation in those extracurricular activities is sometimes the only reason some children stay in school, she said.