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Benson Scholarship Foundation honors students, residents

The Niven Community Center hosted the Fourth Annual Benson Scholarship Banquet on Aug. 4, honoring graduating seniors while helping to ease the financial burdens of attending college.

A minority need-based scholarship, the Benson Scholarship Foundation awarded a $500 scholarship to Elijah Threadgill, who will attend Fayetteville State University in the fall.

Two seniors, Cristina Sells and Courtney Holbrooks, were the winners and first runner-up, respectively, for the Mary Elease Blackmon Townsend scholarship, both earning $500 scholarships.

The Kingville Alumni Association also awarded $500 scholarships to Jacobi Lex Emery and Jamyah S. Baldwin, along with a $1,000 scholarship to Benjamin Lenwood Williams.

“Over the last four years I have been very blessed to see the Benson Scholarship grow tremendously,” organizer William Benson said. “I love seeing our community come together for a wonderful cause. I think of giving not as a duty, but as a privilege. Stanly is home and will always be home for me. I love the people here, the school system and the many amazing things Stanly produces in our youth and citizens.”

With the Foundation’s fifth year coming up, Benson said the foundation plans to increase scholarship amounts along with forming relationships with other local organizations to award additional scholarships.

“I am hoping more larger businesses and organizations invest in this great cause so we may help more students,” Benson said.

Special recognition was also given to Lashonda Holmes, the vision coordinator of the College Outreach Ministry at New Zion Baptist Church. The ministry, which gives schools supplies to college students, began in 2017 by giving out supplies to more than 100 students. Including scholarship winners at the banquet, the program has given supplies to more than 200 students this year.

Albemarle Police officer Kim Cook was honored by the foundation for her work in the community as a D.A.R.E instructor and school resource officer. Cook will begin her eighth year as the SRO at Albemarle Middle. She also visits East Albemarle and Central elementary schools.

Cook first worked at the jail where she said she “always treated people with respect and treated them the way I would want my family members treated. I continue to do that today. I don’t care what ethnicity you are. I don’t care what the color of your skin is either. We are all a color and I am color blind when it comes to people.”

She said her wish would be to teach D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) at all the schools regardless of grade level.

“When I became an officer, it was to help our community,” Cook said. “My focus is our youth. My kids know I love them and so do their parents, family. It isn’t a job for me, it’s an honor to serve.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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