A teachers aide at Salisbury Middle School received a double Christmas surprise, after her dedication to students was noticed by Sheriff Mike Lewis.
As part of the Pohanka Pays It Forward program, Maxine Watson received $250 from Lewis, who presented the money to her at the school on Dec. 22.
The money was part of $5,000 Pohanka owner Sandy Fitzgerald-Angello gave police agencies to distribute to community members, after she read about a similar program in Kentucky.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office distributed $100 bills to drivers who were stopped for traffic violations. “They got a warning, then we gave them $100,” Lewis told the Salisbury Independent.
One man was so impressed with the spirit of the program that he handed over a few $100 of his own to the needy in the community, Lewis said.
After giving Watson the Christmas money, Lewis, who has known her for years, and always been impressed with her devotion to school children, mentioned to Chris Hagel, marketing director at Pohanka, that he hoped next year Watson could receive a car. Although she has a license, he has never known her to drive.
To Lewis’ delight, Hagel shared her need with Fitzgerald-Angello, and she donated a used, white convertible to Watson.
When Lewis, Mayor Jake Day, Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan, Pohanka employees and even Santa Claus arrived at Watson’s apartment building to deliver present the car, “she was ecstatic,” a jubilant Lewis said.
“Her reaction was priceless. She cried, of course. She is one of the hardest working teachers’ aides and people I have ever known. I have seen her dedication to our community and I know her on a personal level. She goes to my church,” Lewis said.
“It was our annual Christmas surprise,” Fitzgerald-Angello said, insisting the credit belongs to the Sheriff’s Office
“We heard about this amazing woman. Sheriff Lewis choose her as someone really deserving. Chris found out she needed a car and had been taking public transportation,” she said.
The Pohanka Pays It Forward Program, designed to donate to charitable organizations, started during the 2009 recession. Since then, more than $1 million has been donated to 750 charitable organizations, according to the Pohanka of Salisbury Website.
Reach Susan Canfora at email@example.com.