Eastern Kentucky Principal On American Idol Brings Mixed Reactions

By: Heather Haley Email
By: Heather Haley Email

She says she did it for the kids, but after the principal of Beckham Bates Elementary School agreed to be featured on American Idol. She says all they got was backlash.

The Save the Children organization is working with the 75 million dollars raised during the show back in the spring. So now after nearly 7 months we asked: where is the money raised going?

As the principal of Beckham Bates Elementary school in Letcher County, Twyla Messer agreed to be featured on American Idol.

“Yes, we did have a lot of negative stuff, but the benefits, wow, are far worth the negative comments,” says Twyla Messer.

Messer says the day after the show her phone wouldn't stop ringing with people wanting to help out.

A group from Georgia saw that show and wanted to help.

“If you want your world better, don't wait on someone else to come in and do it. You need to get up and take part in it,” says Sherry Walker, a volunteer from Georgia.

The group first came to visit in August, but was disappointed when they realized the school had not received any of the additional funds from Save the Children.

“Where is this money? If America has given back, where is it going to?” says Rick Pensa, another volunteer from Georgia.

Mike Kiernan works for Save the Children. He says they are one of several organizations who get a part of the 75 million dollars raised on the show.

“We are in the process of receiving $7.5 million from the American Idol funding and $2.5 million, at least will go to eastern Kentucky,” says Kiernan.

Kiernan says Beckham Bates will receive at least 150 thousand dollars this year and next year.

Through the funding the school has added a physical education program, as well as a tutoring program. They also plan to build a new community library at the school and add a storage building.

Kiernan says the money the organization gives to the school is just a first step. He says others like the group from Georgia need to dedicate their time and their hearts.

“That's my hope that whatever we do here will have a lasting effect on some of these children just something we say and something we do but the love and the hugs have been phenomenal,” says Pat Pensa, another volunteer from Georgia.

One thing they all say is no matter whether you donate money or time, it is all about putting a smile on a child's face.

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