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Nonprofit to host after-school event Thurs.
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The Sojourner Truth Observational Study Hometel will host its annual fundraiser event "Lights on After school" from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Covington Walmart parking lot, 10300 Industrial Blvd.

The After School Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization that was built to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality after-school programs. Each October, one million Americans and more than 7,500 communities nationwide celebrate after-school programs, built to inspire them to learn and help working families, said Lillian Y. Bittaye, founder and CEO of Sojourner Truth program.

There will be a mobile RV equipped with 10 computer work stations in the Wal-Mart parking lot, where students will be able to register to either receive one-on-one tutoring, or "Tutoring by Webcam," which allows them to meet with whomever is located in their community, county or city. They will also demonstrate to parents how to prepare healthy nutritional snacks.

Certified teachers will also be on hand to help parents better understand how they can help their own children with the new common core curriculum in schools.

Speaking at the event will be Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton, Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston, Sheriff Ezell Brown and state Sen. Ronald Ramsey.

This is the sixth year the event has been hosted in Covington.

Bittaye started her organization 19 years ago. A certified teacher, Bittaye started out working in a daycare in 1984 and later on taught in Newton County for two years.

The nonprofit's goal is to expand their services and to reach out to more children to help build funds. Bittaye hopes to regain education for children and cover costs for tutoring that parents might not be able to afford.

The program was selected to receive the Theatrical Alliance balloon for the first time. Bittaye believes this is a big accomplishment for her and the organization as a whole. Bittaye gives a special thanks to Snapping Shoals, PC After Dark, The Evans Company, Kohl's, The Donald Tremble Mortuary, the Newton County Water Department, Bell's Grocery Store, BJ's, 3 Sister's and Mop, Publix, Kroger and Walmart for helping to keep her organization alive. They are currently in the works of teaming up with Comcast Cable.

"If we don't do more, we are going to have more children left behind," she said.

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