$350,000+ thank you: Carter’s Jewelry provides educator gift cards

By BETH BUNCH,

It’s nice to feel appreciated and teachers with the Lamar County, North Forrest, Petal, Hattiesburg Public Schools and Presbyterian Christian got a parting gift for the 2017-18 school year.

Carter’s Jewelry of Petal gave back in a huge way this year for Teacher and Staff Appreciation. 

More than $350,000 in Carter’s gift cards were distributed to the teachers, faculty, staff and administration for more than 30 schools. Each individual received a $100 gift card.

“This idea began in January when we were putting together our yearly marketing campaigns,” said Carter’s Jewelry owner Chae Carter. 

As the marketing team began brainstorming their “big promotion,” they knew it would be hard to top the Southern Miss football promotion from past years. That promotion included getting your money back on jewelry items bought between a certain time if the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles scored a certain amount of points during the Homecoming game. 

Carter admits she was a little nervous before launching this campaign, but remembers being in the developmental stages and hearing the quote, “Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” 

“That catapulted this phenomenon of giving back to each person who influences children while they are in school,” Carter said. 

The gift cards were handed out in phases during a three-week period.

“These gift cards are more than some typical marketing scheme,” said Carter. “We’ve received dozens of calls asking what the catch is, how much the minimum purchase is, and if we even have items in the $100 range. And while there is no catch, no minimum purchase, and we definitely have items in the $100 range, it’s important to us to learn these educators’ stories and show them our appreciation through beautiful jewelry.”

At North Forrest Attendance Center, each teacher was called in by name and presented with a $100 gift card and videos were posted to Facebook.

Casey Conwill, a teacher at North Forrest, said receiving such a gift was awesome.

 “I plan on going this week to use it,” she said. “We were all shocked and excited about getting the gift card.”

Sherry Pittman, interventionist and senior sponsor at Sumrall High School, was absolutely excited. She’s already used her gift card. 

“I purchased a beautiful Pandora ring that is stackable,” Pittman said. “I thought the gift card was amazing.”

Because she bought the ring during Carter’s Mother’s Day promotion, she also received a $50 gift card for a massage.

“They were so nice and helpful,” Pittman said. “I have some jewelry that I need to get sized, so I know I am going to back to them. It really was a win-win situation.”

Recently, Carter was invited to Petal School District’s End-of-the-Year Teacher Pep Rally to present gift cards at that time.  

Margaret Tynes, director of Human Resources and Federal Programs for Petal Schools, asked Carter to dress as the Petal Panther mascot and speak to the faculty and staff on the importance of the role they each played in the schools.  

Carter walked into the gym dressed as the Panther. When Tynes asked her to reveal who she was, the crowd erupted with applause as she removed the panther head and was instantly recognized. 

“This year we wanted to do something great for all of the teachers and staff, so we gathered a bunch of gift cards for every school employee in the Pine Belt — more than $350,000 in gift cards and each and every one of you will go home with a $100 gift card to Carter’s Jewelry in Petal,” Carter explained to the PSD crowd.  

After a standing ovation, applause, cheers and even some tears, the pep rally concluded and Carter was overwhelmed by the emotional response from the teachers and staff alike who expressed gratitude beyond belief.

“We are constantly amazed and appreciative of the tremendous support our Petal businesses give to our school district,” said Tynes. “From locally- owned businesses to national chain stores, our schools benefit greatly from their donations. “

For the end-of-the-year employee pep rally, 11 different businesses gave items to the district to use as door prizes. 

“The excitement the prizes generated was contagious and everyone left for summer break happy and enthusiastic,” Tynes said. “This year all employees were able to win a prize thanks to the generosity of Carter’s Jewelry. It’s this type support from our businesses that helps us keep employees motivated and entice the best people to work in our schools. We are thankful for all businesses who support our school district.”

Regarding future campaigns, Carter says to “Stay tuned!”

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