FAIRLAND – Fairland is a proud little town full of determined residents striving to make the community the best place possible to live and learn. Tuesday a “ Prize Patrol” of the Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation led by President Serena Wilson with balloons galore surprised teachers with almost $20,000 in prizes and gifts in a real show of support for the community's educators.

The non-profit 501 C3 foundation is set up to be supportive of the children and teachers at Fairland Public Schools.

Each Fairland teacher, all 23 who applied for grants, received a gift or “swag” bag from the Prize Patrol with items donated by Chapters in downtown Miami, GDA, Grand Savings Bank, Dr. Chris Robinson of Miami Dental Care, REC Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Rusty Willow, First National Banks of Fairland and Miami, and Tristate Insurance. The bags were loaded with special treats such as restaurant gift certificates, Chapters gift certificates, water bottles, candles, coffee cups, pens and more to express appreciation for the teachers' dedication to their profession.

“Because these businesses donated we did not have to dig into our foundation's funding for these items,” Wilson said. “This really helps and allows us to continue to build our enrichment fund. They really stepped up and helped.”

The Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation was founded in 2007 and has been able to accrue a whopping $85,000 in an asset base to date. With a goal of $100,000 to create self-sufficiency the little town's residents, area businesses and alumni have built a solid foundation for the Enrichment Foundation in a short seven years.

“When people donate money to us we take them seriously, and it's used effectively to support education,” Wilson said. “Our criteria for making awards looks at the number of students affected, measurable outcomes, and the overall benefits.”

The Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation board met in early November to review the applications and choose awards to grant. The board currently consists of Wilson, Ashley Landon, Roxann Kinsey, Vic Boyer, Candi Funk, and Patricia Clark, Larry Gray, Don Stevens, Michael Wyrick, Casey Bowers, Mark Detherage and Kara Kinsey.

The Fairland Public School Enrichment Foundation purpose is charitable support for education by securing and distributing contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations for the benefit of the students in the Fairland Public School systems.

Fairland teachers receiving foundation awards this year include; Donna Ridgely, Laney Mishmash, Kathy Brock, Misty Moncado, Kristin Hitchcock, Jackie Brown, Jon Steele, Alisha Brodrick, Janelle Jacobs, Jennifer Johnson, Karla Esh, Katie Detherage, Amber Schertz, Josh Schertz, Mary Dushane, Mary Caudill, Tammy Powell, Sadie Detherage, Amber Richardson, Shandy Bowers, and Chali Looper.

Awards were given from $67 for a document printer up to $6,800 for Google Chrome books.

“Several teachers applied under one application for the Chrome books, and they were able to all use them in a computer lab,” Wilson said.

Only two applications were not awarded because they were duplicates of other requests, according to Wilson.

The goal is to create a self-sustaining foundation endowment to enable a long-term support system for Fairland's schools and educators and to enable the organization to award more and more support every year.

Wilson is in hopes families will name the foundation as a recipient of memorials, scholarship funds and alumni project giving to help enlarge the percentage given yearly as teacher and classroom awards.

“The thing we have to do is ask, and I don't mind asking when it goes for such a great cause,” she said.

From the foundation's website, the organization's goal is stated as, “We dream of the world as a better place where everyone is concerned with making change. Step by step, our dreams are becoming reality.”

The main source of funding comes from the foundation's signature benefit 'Diamonds and Denim' dinner and auction event supporting Fairland Public Schools. The next event is set for April 28, 2018.

For more information about the Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation visit their Facebook page or website at https://www.fpsef.org, email fpsenrichmentfoundation@gmail.com, or call 918-961-1658, or mail donations to FPS Enrichment Foundation, PO Box 2, Fairland, OK. 74343.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.