Closings and delays

Grammy Award-winning gospel singer pays lunch bills for Guilford County students

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A true random act of kindness at Erwin Montessori Elementary School will help all Guilford County Schools.

"She has no affiliation, no one at the school knows her," Principal Deborah Parker said. "So it is what we consider a blessing she chose our school."

Recently, the Erwin Montessori cafeteria manager got a phone call. The caller said she wanted to pay the outstanding school lunch balance. Erwin Montessori welcomed the donation. While it was a random call that brought the school and donor together, Parker said there was still something familiar about the donor.

"I listen to all of her music," Parker said. "I love her music."

Parker couldn't believe she was talking to Grammy award-winning gospel artist Tasha Cobbs. Cobbs paid the $300 school lunch balance, toured the school and signed autographs. It's a day Erwin Montessori will not forget.

"Tasha Cobbs had come to Erwin and paid off all of the unpaid lunch balances," Parker said. "Parents were thrilled and sent thank you notes, some called the school to say how much they appreciated it."

While the donation was made specifically to Erwin Montessori, Guilford County Schools Nutrition Director Jim Faggione says everyone within the school system will benefit.

"The district can then use those resources they used to offset those cost to help support teacher salaries and support teachers in the classroom," Faggione said. "Help support maintenance programs they need to do."

If there's an outstanding lunch balance, Guilford County Schools has to make up the difference. But thanks to parent payments and community contributions over the past two years, the negative lunch balance is shrinking.

"The fact is it seems like more of a heighten interest in supporting kids," Faggione said. "It's great to see folks recognize the need and are willing to do something to support the kids."

While the main goal is to wipe out the outstanding school lunch balance, Parker hopes her Erwin Montessori students will recognize the benefits of giving.

"Our children being a National School of Character, our students do perform a lot of random acts of kindness," Parker said. "So this is a reverse. It was nice to bring that random act of kindness to our school and students, just fabulous."

In a separate case, Colfax Elementary recently got a $500 donation that will go toward their negative school lunch balance.