Employees provide backpacks for back-to-school

Employees provide backpacks for back-to-school

Employees at the Trussville Wal-Mart didn’t mind when Erica Lamar-Coney showed up the evening of July 31, shopping list in hand. On the roster: 1,500 spiral notebooks, 500 clear backpacks, hundreds of pencils and pens, 500 boxes of crayons, 500 packs of loose-leaf paper, 2,500 folders, boxes of colored pencils and scissors.

In minutes, several shelves were clear of school supplies. But it was all for a good cause: Birmingham kids. As education chairwoman for the Magic City Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization, Lamar-Coney bought school supplies for some 500 needy children at 10 Birmingham city schools. It’s a project near and dear to her heart.

“I’m a product of Birmingham City Schools,” said Lamar-Coney, who graduated from Parker High School. “Education is so important.” That, she knows firsthand: Lamar-Coney graduated from Knoxville College on an academic scholarship, later earning her J.D. from Miles Law School in Birmingham. She knows many children don’t have a support system to help them achieve their dreams.

“There are a lot of kids in single-parent homes, or being raised by grandparents, or whose parents don’t have the money to buy school supplies because of job losses, or they may be incarcerated,” said Lamar-Coney, Quality and Training analyst. “There are a lot of needs out there.”

Getting busy


With help from Wal-Mart employees and her children, Jeremiah, 11, and Victoria, 9, Lamar-Coney loaded up the supplies. The next day, about 20 APSO members met in a Corporate Headquarters conference room to fill backpacks. Adding to the heap, Felecia Little brought a mound of materials donated by SouthernLINC employees at the South Lake Office in Hoover.

When Lamar-Coney asked for help with the project, Customer Service Supervisor Angela Brown and Applications Analyst Leslie Bass had spearheaded an email to Southern LINC employees at South Lake. Little said that engineers insisted on donating six heavy-duty backpacks.

“About 50 employees gave supplies, and some gave money for us to buy supplies,” said the Customer Support team leader, who set up decorated donation boxes throughout South Lake Office.

Little got swept into the work when she saw the thousands of items in the conference room. “I really was supposed to just drop off supplies at the loading dock, and I ended up working.” She joined the assembly line of busy volunteers: Sedricka Anderson, Breann Baldwin, Bass, Tommy Cooper, Tammie Griffin, Tiffany Gustin, Bart Holmes, Berlkey Horton, Rick Johnson, Julia King, Renee´ Looney, Kaylon Mikula, LaTanya Moore, Dorothy Reynolds, Bevin Tomlin, April Walker and Erica Wright.

“I was like, great! Let’s get started! I was thrilled,” said Little, who has volunteered in the school project for 14 years. “I feel if we can help, as a community, the teachers and parents shouldn’t have to be worried about the pens and pencils.”

Giving back


Lamar-Coney is contacting schools that request supplies – including Huffman, Green Acres and Putnam middle schools – working out a delivery system with the help of Alabama Power volunteers. For her, it’s a chance to give back to her community.

“I’m an inner-city kid from an inner-city school,” Lamar-Coney said. “My children are blessed, in the grand scheme of things. I love giving back. This is giving kids the tools they need to be successful in life.”

– Donna Cope