Joyous screams echoed through the hallways of W.J. Gurganus Elementary School Tuesday morning as students learned that they would be getting new playground equipment.
The Havelock school got enough votes in U.S. Cellular’s 2013 Calling all Communities Campaign to receive $25,000 from the company for the project.
Principal Debbie Hurst said the old playground was constructed in 1991. On particularly hot days, the playground can’t be used because it could pose a safety threat to the students.
“What it means for us is we get a new set of playground equipment,” Hurst said of the contest.
The top 20 schools receiving the most votes in the online contest received funds. Though initially outside of the top 20 early in the contest, a late push to get out the vote propelled the Gurganus into the winning position.
“The students took out flyers and our parents were the biggest drivers behind this,” Hurst said.
On Tuesday, a national linkup at 11:30 a.m. listed all of the winning schools, and Gurganus students cheered as they saw their school’s name in the list. The linkup happened simultaneously as representatives from U.S. Cellular walked around the school with balloons from classroom to classroom.
They were joined by a human-sized, red and white walking cell phone called Cellby, which was entertaining to the children in classes from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“We are certainly proud to be part of this,” said Dee Taylor, director of sales for U.S. Cellular’s Southeast territory.
“It’s extremely important to U.S. Cellular to be part of the community and to be about giving back to the community. Many of our associates live and work in the community, and this is a great day for us to give back to the community the $25,000 for their playground.”
Gurganus was one of 4,000 schools that received votes in the contest.
Since 2008, the company has awarded $4.5 million to 76 schools across the United States. North Carolina schools have received $850,000.