Oprah helps some La Marque kids

March 18, 2008 9:27:17 AM PDT
From a new playground, basketball courts to computers and plasma TVs, there was a big facelift for a school in La Marque.You may have seen the makeover on abc13 Sunday night. Oprah's Big Give helped out students and teachers in La Marque.

It helped in a way students, faculty and the entire La Marque community would have never imagined. And to think it all started with a teacher's love for her students and her desire to make things better for them.

Leave it to Oprah Winfrey to create a reality show where contestants compete to see how much they can give instead of playing to see how much they can win.

"The Big Give is great," said Nancy Hennigan who lives in La Marque. "Giving to the community, that's what it's all about."

No one could agree more than Geraldine Sam, a first grade teacher at La Marque's Simms Elementary. She wrote Winfrey a letter last year.

"I really wanted to find a way that we could get a playground for our children to play on," the teacher said.

Unaware that her decision to do so, would help transform not just the school, but the entire community.

Sam would even spend money out of her own pocket, sometimes thousands of dollars a year, to make sure her kids had the basic necessities. So when Oprah's Big Give came calling, her prayers were answered.

"I started balling, I was just crying, it was awesome, it was truly awesome," she said.

Contestants did more than just raise money for a new playground. When all was said and done, Simms Elementary had a brand new basketball and tennis courts, new computers, flat screen TVs and school supplies for the entire student body.

"We want our children to go forth in a land of prosperity and be successful," said La Marque ISD Superintendent Ecomet Burley.

With the show airing last night, the community came together to watch and celebrate.

A school and a community remade, all because of a teacher and her dream to see her school succeed.

"It's not about us, it's not about me, it's about the children," she told us. "How can I help the children and what can I do."

Keeping with the theme of "it's better to give than receive", those who attended last night's watch party were asked to bring donations of non-perishable food items to benefit residents throughout La Marque ISD.

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