Obama, local company help SC school

May 4, 2009 3:25:04 PM PDT
Two Chicagoans have made a huge difference for students at a poor, dilapidated school in South Carolina. The CEO of a local school furniture company has donated new desks and chairs. The other Chicagoan who helped is President Obama.

Back in February, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama read the letter of 14-year-old Ty'Sheoma Bethea, describing decrepit conditions at her school. Listening was the CEO of a company that makes school furniture, Sagus International in Oak Brook. The company has a pilot project going on in Chicago schools right now, trying to show good furnishings and design improve learning.

Over the weekend, $250,000 worth of desks, chairs and cafeteria tables were moved into J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, South Carolina, a donation from Sagus.

The crumbling school building is so shoddy, rain pours through the ceiling, there are holes in the floor, electricity goes out a couple times a day.

"They were operating with 30-to-50-year-old furniture in various states of disrepair, multiple colors and generations, some old furniture, uncomfortable, even wooden desks," said Roy Koch, VP, Sagus International.

South Carolina's governor is refusing federal stimulus money, so there are no plans to build a new school. Even so, Bethea is thrilled for herself and the 500-member student body.

"I thought that everything looked great and I'm very proud of what I have done," said Bethea. "And I'm very thankful for the people who donated to us and I'm very happy."

Bethea proved that one child's letter could get attention, from a president, a first lady and the nation. Sagus proves one company can make a difference.

The project also involved contributions from a supplier and a freight company to haul everything from Chicago to South Carolina. The CEO of Sagus was also at the school over the weekend to oversee the installation of all the furniture.


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