HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Sonoco, the packaging giant headquartered in Hartsville, has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Darlington County Humane Society and launched a partnership with local educators for a first-of-its-kind education, community outreach and animal welfare program.
“We are excited to support a project which will provide a tremendous impact on Darlington County and be a change agent for increased volunteerism, educational and employment opportunities,” said Howard Coker, Sonoco president and CEO. “Sonoco’s purpose of ‘Better Packaging. Better Life.’ guides what we do, and I believe this project will improve services for the community and support educational programs for area students that will build a strong, future workforce.”
The $500,000 grant was awarded for the Humane Society’s Capital Campaign to help build a new animal adoption center in Hartsville where students from area schools and the PAWS mentors can meet for tutoring and volunteerism sessions while developing a love for animals and an understanding of humane care.
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“Teaching the importance of community and education to our children will create a generation that is equipped to give back while helping develop career paths that can define their future,” said Tim Newman, Darlington County School District superintendent.
The PAWS mentoring program was started in Hartsville elementary schools by a group of Sonoco employees in 2018 but was forced to close during the pandemic. It will relaunch in early 2023, prior to the construction of the new Humane Society facility, and is expected to attract approximately 25 mentors spending one-on-one time with area students.
The program will be expanded to target rising 11th and 12th grade students without a defined postgraduation plan. In cooperation with educators from the Agricultural, Mechanics and Horticulture disciplines within the Darlington County Schools along with mentors from Sonoco and Nucor of South Carolina, local students will have opportunities to work alongside professional trades at the current DCHS facility until the new property is completed.
Phase 2 of the program is intended to launch discipline-specific mentorship and education tracts and will include one day per week with DCHS employees and volunteers on Humane Society projects. Upon completion of the new shelter, additional opportunities will become available for students to experience business, maintenance and animal care trades.
“Our employees have been donating their time to the Humane Society and local schools for years and are dedicated to ensuring the children and animals in our community have a safe environment for their development. We believe local students will be eager and excited to get the experience working with Sonoco employees and the animals will flourish with much needed care,” said Roger Schrum, executive director of the Sonoco Foundation.