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International Paper Foundation awards $70,000 in grants

The International Paper Foundation and Riverdale Mill awarded more than $70,000 in grants Thursday to schools and nonprofit agencies at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center.

The 28 grants that were awarded will help fund projects that focus on the foundation’s signature causes, which are children’s education, hunger and health and wellness.

“International Paper believes in investing in people, both our employees and the communities where we live and work,” said Jim Bruce, mill manager. “We’re confident these organizations and schools will use these funds to impact our community in a positive way.”

Bruce said awarding the grants each year is one of the best parts of the job.

As Arthur McLean, communications manager for International Paper, announced each grant, recipients were invited up to the podium to receive their check and explain what their grant would be used for.

“It’s extremely gratifying. It warms your heart. I don’t know how it couldn’t hearing somebody talk about this money is really going to help them,” McLean said.

“These folks are doing everything they can, so to give them that little bit of boost and to see them get reenergized about what they’re doing, it’s a great feeling.”

Anne Williamson, a computer and technology teacher at R.B. Hudson, said the $2,060 grant they got will be used to purchase materials for an outdoor learning classroom.

“The students are not only going to learn about the environment and the importance of maintaining it, but they will develop critical hands-on skills,” Williamson said.

Williamson said the outdoor learning center should be ready after the first week of February.

“It’s just makes a huge difference in our community to have a corporation that recognizes the needs of the community and helps meet them,” Williamson said.

Several of this year’s grants focused on health and wellness, as well as literacy.

“Over the past couple of years, the company has taken a good hard look at its giving programs, and we made a few changes,” McLean said. “One of those is that we want to continue supporting education, but we’ve also added a key focus area of hunger this year.”

Some of the other grants will be used for a wellness garden at Selma High School, new playground equipment, health related books and more.

The schools that received grants are Selma High School, Autaugaville School, Brantley, Byrd First Class Early Learning Center, Cedar Park, Christ the King, Clark, Keith, McRae-Gaines Learning Center, R.B. Hudson, Salem, School of Discovery, Sophia P. Kingston, Southside, Tipton Durant, Valley Grande and Martin.

Easter Seals of West Central Alabama, the Edmundite Missions, SABRA Sanctuary and Selma Communities of Transformation also received grants.

Three donations were also made to Selma City Schools, Dallas County Schools and the YMCA of Selma-Dallas County.

The grants were applied for in the fall and reviewed by a committee at International Paper.