By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
When one of their family members was involved in a tragic car accident earlier this year, the teachers and staff of Sudduth Elementary decided they needed to do something to help.
Assistant teacher Angelia Gandy and her family were involved in a car accident earlier this year on Oktoc Road. One of her sons was killed, while she was critically injured. She spent months at a hospital in Jackson recovering from injuries.
“We were all devastated when we heard the news of her accident and the death of her son. As I traveled to Jackson with my husband to see her in the critical care unit, I told him that we should have some sort of fund raiser for her. I just wanted to do something to help. I felt like everyone else would feel the same way and they did,” kindergarten teach Cheryl Lipsey said. “Our assistants do not make much money. Ms. Gandy has been an assistant because she is dedicated to ... working with children and making a difference in their lives. From personal experience, I knew financially how much it could potentially cost her.”
The fundraiser was held several weeks ago where items were donated and sold at a garage sale-style event, as well as a gift card raffle, a silent auction and a bake sale.
“Angelia is a person that is not only strong and courageous, but one who has a heart for helping others. She is devoted to the kids she interacts with each day and their parents,” kindergarten teacher Brittney Rye said. “I knew she would not let this event in her life stop her, no matter the cost. Therefore, we wanted to help ease that as much as possible. We love her and wanted to show her that love the same way she would for us.”
Lipsey said they were able to raise more money than they ever expected thanks to the support from the Starkville community.
“She needed us. When one of our family members is in need, it is our Christian duty, our family duty and our love duty to help people in need, and that’s just what we do,” Sudduth Principal Lisa Thompson said. “The kindergarten teachers were the ones that put this together — they did the work. I just happen to work among a super, super group of people.”
On Wednesday morning, they surprised Gandy with the money raised in her honor. The total was kept a secret until it was revealed to the entire school during the ceremony.
With the help of students, parents and the community, the event raised $7,000 for Gandy and her family.
Gandy and several of her coworkers burst into tears when the total was revealed.
“In the accident Angelia’s vehicle was completely totaled. With all the various expenses a vehicle was just not a priority. Now she has the opportunity to purchase one,” Rye said. “This will help her get to work, therapy and take her boys places they needed.”
Gandy said she was surprised but very grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone for all of your prayers and gifts that were bestowed upon my children and I. To know that so much love and compassion came from all directions was greatly appreciated. My heart will always overflow with joy and love and will have a better and stronger desire to give back the love that was given to us,” Gandy said.