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Volunteer helps get school supplies for Lanier Elementary
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Morgan Kleiber hands out Kona Ice to kids in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Erikka Wareham readily proclaims her strong desire for her children to have roots in a community. Those roots have grown in North Hall County, and specifically at Lanier Elementary School, she said.

It started when her older daughter, Molly, 11, started Lanier in kindergarten.

“We’ve just loved (the school) ever since,” Wareham said. “They’ve always been so good to us.”

Her devotion to the school has led to hours of volunteer work over the past decade.

“I did whatever they needed me to do,” she said of her volunteer work. Helping kids with reading or math, cutting out laminate sheets, chaperoning field trips and working in concession stands have been among the chores, she said.

Last spring Wareham made a photo of her son, Dean, 3, and herself and posted it on Instagram for the Kona Ice campaign — #SeetheCHANGE — and Lanier Elementary was the beneficiary.

The school hosted its open house for students and parents Wednesday, and Kona Ice was there with its shaved ice, with inflatables and with school supplies — $1,000 worth.

Wareham said she had a Kona cup in her car — “two of them actually” — and saw information about the promotion on it. That led to the photo and, eventually, to the open house contributions.

She explained that she was notified she had won a T-shirt, and the company wanted her to tell it about something she’d like to change in the community.

Kona Ice picked five winners nationally, including Wareham, said Jessica Tcholakov, spokeswoman for Kona.

Wareham said she suggested school supplies — and Kona Ice planned to take donations of supplies Wednesday evening — because she has made a practice of buying extra supplies and giving them to teachers.

She said she has two containers at home where she puts supplies bought on sale for use as needed. If a teacher needs something, she said, she tells her or him to send a note telling her what to get.

“I’m not rich, but I’ve been blessed,” the single mother of three said. “Other people helped me out.”

She praises Lanier as “such a good community and good people.”

Molly, now in middle school, will go to Da Vinci Academy this year. Wareham’s second daughter, Sarah, 7, is a second-grader. Dean is not in school yet.

Wareham moved to North Hall in 2001. She said her father was in the Air Force, and the family moved a lot.

She wanted her children to develop roots in a community, she said.

“My children have grown up with their friends,” she explained.

After a divorce, she went to the University of North Georgia in nursing and earned her associate’s degree almost exactly a year ago.

She started her new job this week as the school nurse at North Hall Middle School.

She said she wanted to teach for years.

“Somewhere along the way I got this idea that I really liked science,” she said.

When her two younger children had medical problems when they were born, “it really did it for me,” Wareham said, sparking her interest in nursing.

Being a school nurse “seemed like the perfect fit for me,” she said. It’s on the same schedule as her kids, and “I get to be around kids.”

While doing her student nursing, Wareham helped out at Lanier, teaching kindergarten and pre-K students “about handwashing and germs.”

She said she made up a song for the students to sing while washing their hands.

Wareham now is working on her bachelor’s degree in nursing at UNG.

Lanier Principal John Wiggins lauded Wareham’s work as a volunteer, and he said the school has an active parent-teacher organization with 20 to 25 parents who volunteer at the school.

He said the school has eight to 10 parents who volunteer part of each day at the school.