The University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett had a Skype session with a class of sixth-grade students from Alice G. Mulcahy Middle School in Tulare, Calif.
He called to thank them for contributing to the Oseola McCarty Scholarship Fund.
According to the university website, Matt Johnson, a teacher at the middle school, introduced his students to the story of McCarty as part of an ongoing philanthropy discussion. As a result of the discussion, Johnson’s class made the decision to donate $40 to the fund, which then caused other students in the school to become interested in making donations as well.
A $135 donation was sent to Southern Miss. During the call, Bennett spoke with Johnson about each of the students and what led them to make the decision to donate to the McCarty fund, as well as how the donation has affected the school.
“We all have learned so much from the generosity of Ms. McCarty and have been so inspired by her story,” Bennett said. “We believe it is just a life lesson for each of us that no matter what you do in life or how much money you have, there are always opportunities for you to give back and to help others.”
Bennett said he hopes the generous spirit McCarty had will live on in others.
“This is my fifteenth year teaching sixth grade, and every class has their own distinct personality, and this class just seems to really understand what it means to give and to be philanthropists and to share with other people,” Johnson said. “They don’t hesitate to do it and it’s very encouraging.”
Johnson informed Bennett that the idea to donate was not originally his, but the decision of one of his students. The Oseola McCarty Scholarship Fund was created by McCarty in 1995, when it was announced that she wanted to leave her life savings to the university, which was $150,000.
Today, the fund totals approximately $745,000. There is also a residence hall on the Southern Miss campus that is named after McCarty, who died in 1999.