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Local schools vie for big money from Big Lots contest
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As schools across the nation struggle with budget cuts, students find themselves with fewer opportunities than ever. The loss of vital programs like the arts and physical education and the lack of funds for supplies like textbooks and instruments have made it difficult for teachers to perform jobs necessary to educate their students.

To aid schools suffering from financial dilemmas, Big Lots is holding their third annual Lots2Give video contest. Schools participating in the competition are required to submit a 90-second video and a 50-word essay explaining their need of financial support.

"Big Lots is a big supporter of the communities they serve. So anything they can do to help further education, they are all for it," said Stacey Marlow, spokesperson for Big Lots.

This year, nine Georgia schools are competing in the program, three of which are from Covington. Alcovy High School, Veterans Memorial Middle School and Rocky Plains Elementary School are all vying for the cash prizes that will surely help them with struggling budgets. A total of 192 schools are registered in the program.

"We have more than doubled the number of contestants from last year," said Marlow. "There are about 112 submissions this year, compared to 46 from last year"

Alcovy High used the slideshow format to explain the essential need for the arts. They provided surprising statistics backing the benefits and economical growth of the arts.

Veterans Memorial Middle School recently learned of a new participation fee for sports due to budget cuts. Their video highlights the sports programs affected if they were eliminated.

Rocky Plains Elementary cleverly used a broadcast news design to depict students protesting for more computers to support the growing number of students attending the school.

Big Lots will be giving away $100,000 in cash prizes to be shared by the winning schools. The pot is split with one $10,000 grand prize and 45 $2,000 first place winners. In addition, customers can donate $1 or $5 at participating Big Lots stores nationwide, which participating schools will receive 100 percent of proceeds.

"By configuring the prize structure this way, they can give more schools a chance at winning," said Marlow. "Big Lots themselves won’t be doing any judging. It will be up to the public to decide online who will win."

Individuals can vote up to three times a day. Voting is now available online through July 5 at .