August 10, 2017
By Karyn Spellman
Ekene Anofienem thought the phone call telling her that she had won a $1,000 gift certificate from Discount School Supply and Maryland EXCELS was a prank. But she quickly realized it was a blessing.
“I was surprised when I got the call,” said Ekene, a family child care provider in Prince George’s County. “I said, ‘Are you for real?’ But yes, it was real. I was so excited!”
Ekene was one of five winners in the Discount School Supply and Maryland EXCELS giveaway for a $1000 gift certificate. On June 30, all providers and programs who were participating in Maryland EXCELS with a published quality rating were automatically entered into the drawing.
The other winners were: Dee Dee’s Place at Fairland (Montgomery County), Wise Early Learning Center (Baltimore County), Grannie Annie’s ChildCare & Learning Center (Anne Arundel County), and family child care provider Gloria Tellez (Montgomery County).
Discount School Supply, a discount vendor with Maryland EXCELS, gave the opportunity for programs and providers to replenish, update, and enhance their supplies and child care spaces.
“It was like a million dollars to me,” said Ekene, who has been a child care provider for almost 10 years. “I had dreamt of buying everything I needed, and now I could.”
She had already planned on buying some of the basics herself—crayons, posters, paint—but the gift certificate allowed her to dream bigger. The children will have colorful new chairs and tables, a sandbox, a sand and water table, and beanbags, just to name a few of the things from Ekene’s wish list.
The children at Dee Dee’s Place at Fairland will have new outdoor toys and equipment to exercise their bodies and engage their creativity.A playhouse for younger children will have a working water pump and a flower box for planting, while a rock climbing wall with four sides and cargo nets will allow older children to work on their gross motor skills.
“It’s going to have a very positive impact because we have playground equipment that’s been here for a very long time. It’s going to refresh what we have. The kids are going to be very excited,” said Rebeca Ascencio, the director of Dee Dee’s Place. “It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to get something like that.”
Gloria Tellez, a family child care provider, was trying to figure out how to prioritize a small budget for new supplies when she received the call that she had won.
Like Ekene, Gloria was surprised and a little skeptical at first.
“I’m so happy everything was true,” Gloria said. “I [would have only had] about $200 to spend, but now I can get so much more.”
She started her family child care with infants two years ago, but now she has toddlers and infants in her care. As the children have grown and changed, she has needed to buy materials that are age- and developmentally-appropriate. Winning the gift certificate allows her to buy more of the supplies that are useful now and will continue be as the children get older.