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MSA is seeking public’s donations — Local Chamber, Foundation back fundraising effort

The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and the MSA Foundation have joined forces to collect money and supplies for the Mississippi School of the Arts.

MSA is a public residential high school for gifted and talented 11th- and 12th-graders, and it hosts students from 49 Mississippi counties.

Fifteen years ago, the state Legislature appropriated funds to create MSA, but, since then, the institution has suffered a series of debilitating budget cuts.

The school operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and houses most of its students in dormitories. Yet, despite maintaining a large campus and sizeable student body, it operates on a relatively meager budget.

In order to keep its finances in order, MSA has been forced to reduce the size of its staff and rework the allocation of its household supplies.

“Right now, we have zero dollars in the budget for theatre and dance,” MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch said.

The countywide fundraising project, called “The Chamber Gives Back Initiative!” strives to combat state budget cuts and boost the school’s overall financial outlook. As part of the initiative, the Chamber of Commerce is eliciting in-kind supply donations as well as financial contributions. 

Some of the supplies most badly needed at MSA are:

• Copy paper — 8 ½ x 11 white

• Paper towels — regular household rolls and brown folded

• Liquid soap — gallons or individual pumps

• Trash bags — large black bags and smaller clear bags

• All purpose bleach cleaner

• Non-abrasive gel cleaner

The Chamber is working in conjunction with the MSA Foundation and the MSA Beta Club, which is currently sponsoring a “Stuff-the-Bus” drive. Physical supplies can be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce office on South Whitworth Avenue or dropped off at a school bus parked in front of the Student Life Center on the MSA campus until Friday.

Businesses are also encouraged to give, and both the Chamber and the MSA Foundation can provide donors with a tax-deduction acknowledgement for any in-kind or monetary gifts to the school.

“Our hope is that Brookhaven can continue to be home to this beautiful campus for many years to come,” Chamber Program Director Katie Nations said in a released statement.

Hirsch said every supply donation helps free up money for student opportunities and allows MSA to continue meeting its rigorous academic standards.

For more information on how to donate to MSA year round, contact Hirsch at 601-823-1300 or send her an email at shirsch@mdek12.org.

“We’re very thankful to the Chamber and the community at large,” she said.