Samantha Stonehill knows that with each click of the cash register comes a boost to South Carolina education.
Stonehill is the superintendent of the State Fair’s Pro Kitchen Cookie Kitchen, which long has been serving up tasty chocolate chip cookies and milk to fair patrons eager to delight their taste buds during the annual fair. Again this year, all proceeds from the kitchen are going directly to the fair’s Ride of Your Life Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship program was launched in 1997 and each year awards 50 scholarships to South Carolina high school students who plan to study at any public or private college, university or technical college in the state. The scholarships are $10,000 each and are awarded at $2,500 annually.
And when Stonehill rings up each customer at the cookie kitchen – located between the Moore and Rosewoods building – it is a sweet reminder that each sale is adding to the nearly $5 million in scholarships already awarded since the program started.
“It’s someone going to college at all times,” Stonehill said. “It’s busy non-stop.”
Columbia’s Shineka Gist, who came to the fair on opening weekend with her daughter, Breelyn, a fifth grader, said she was aware of the scholarship program and appreciated its benefits.
“I think that’s awesome,” Gist said, while Breelyn offered a thumbs up as she helped herself to a cookie. “They’re warn,” Breelyn said.
Columbia’s Jess Stallings, who came out the fair opening weekend with his family, initially was not aware of the direct beneficiaries of his family purchase, but he gave high marks to the prospect of supporting education. “I like that,” he said.
This year the Pro Kitchen Cookie Kitchen is helping support another charitable effort in the community.
The Oliver Gospel Mission is selling locally-brewed coffee – by the cup and the bag – in the kitchen, and proceeds from sales will help support the area’s homeless and other mission programs.