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Stuttgart firm makes 3 donations in Pine Bluff

by Eplunus Colvin | January 14, 2022 at 3:17 a.m.
Lennox International in Stuttgart presents $10,000 donations to various nonprofit organizations in Pine Bluff on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. From left are Berinda Eugene of Aaron Berinda International Ministry Inc.; Jim Crofford, plant controller at Lennox International; Shalonda Lewis, Lennox's human resources manager; Alicia Eldgridge, chief executive officer of The Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County; and Jherrithan Dukes, principal of Friendship Aspire Academy. (Eplunus Colvin/Pine Bluff Commercial)

Lennox International, a global provider of climate-control solutions for the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration markets located in Stuttgart, presented $10,000 donations to various nonprofit organizations in Pine Bluff on Thursday afternoon.

The Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County, Aaron Berinda International Ministry Inc. and Friendship Aspire Academy Public Charter School-Pine Bluff each received a $10,000 check from Lennox International.

Jim Crofford, the plant controller at Lennox International, said this year’s charitable giving was different because this was the first time the organization would be contributing outside of the Stuttgart community.

Thanks to Shalonda Lewis of the Lennox Human Resource department and a Pine Bluff native, her thoughtfulness for her community made those donations happen.

“We only gave back to the Stuttgart community,” said Lewis, who has been with the company for a year. “When I got there I realized we have a lot of people that are employed by Lennox that live in Pine Bluff.” According to Lewis, approximately 60% of Lennox’s workforce live in Pine Bluff.

“I wanted to make sure that the community that I was born and raised in got a chance to be a recipient of some of the contribution money,” said Lewis.

Lewis said she approached Crofford with her idea and he agreed with her.

“One of the things that we like to do is give back to communities where we live and work,” said Crofford. “As part of that, we have a charitable giving program that we do every year. This is the first year that we’ve come out of Stuttgart and done this in Pine Bluff.” Berinda Eugene accepted the donation for her nonprofit organization, Aaron Berinda International Ministry Inc. The organization’s enrichment program helps the youths of Pine Bluff year-round.

“They work very heavily with the youth in Pine Bluff,” Lewis said, adding the ministry offers resume and scholarship services. “They help so many students get into UAPB and other colleges.” Alicia Aldridge, CEO of The Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County, showed appreciation for the donation, adding donations make services possible.

“The Boys & Girls Club is a nonprofit with 75 years in the community,” she said. “We depend on our community to support us so that we can continue to serve ages 5-18. This is greatly needed.” Jherrithan Dukes, principal of Friendship Aspire Academy, said he was proud of his scholars and teachers and it was because of their shine that they were recognized to receive a generous donation.

The Pine Bluff elementary charter school recently ranked among the top elementary schools statewide in English language arts growth. Friendship Pine Bluff, located on South Hazel Street, was also ranked No. 1 in the Central Region based on ELA ACT Aspire Growth.

Right before the Lennox presentation, Dukes was seen awarding his first- and second-graders with NWEA incentives. The NWEA Test measured academic progress and over 100 students were recognized with several receiving monetary prizes for adaptive achievement and growth.

“Friendship Aspire does a wonderful job with the youth,” Lewis said.

Lewis said she wanted to make sure the money Lennox gave was going for good use. After doing some investigative research, she was happy with the three organizations that were selected.

“I saw by being a human resource manager we were employing a lot of people from the Pine Bluff area but every time we did any contribution or anything it wasn’t coming back to Pine Bluff,” she said. “I’m very happy Lennox International made this happen. This is very special to me.”

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