Cam Newton brings gifts, holiday cheer to Sedgefield Middle

A school-wide showing of the movie "Elf" at Sedgefield Middle was interrupted by a surprise guest on Dec. 19: Cam Newton. The Carolina Panthers quarterback appeared on the school's television screens and classrooms erupted in screams of delight.

"I came here to bring you some holiday cheer," he said. "And to bring some gifts for some people that rarely get recognized - our teachers."

Principal Erik Turner, who'd been secretly planning the visit for weeks, said he received a phone call from the Cam Newton Foundation asking if they could donate $150 gift cards to all of Sedgefield's staff. "I said, 'Of course! Let's do this,'" said Turner.

Turner and his administrative team had already received a donation of Panthers tickets from a community partner. They organized a competition. Employees who had perfect attendance from Thanksgiving to winter break would be entered into a drawing for the tickets. The Cam Newton Foundation added a pair of tickets for the raffle and offered to provide gift cards for all staff members.

Newton's visit focused on teachers, but Turner said the visit was inspiring for students too. "It's a great motivator and morale booster for someone like Cam to come and spend time with us," he said. "Our kids cheer for him and we are glad to be part of his outreach efforts. I am a graduate of CMS and I would have loved it if the Cam Newton of my day had come out to visit me."

While visiting classrooms at Sedgefield, Newton asked many students what they were getting others for the holiday. Many said nothing because they didn't have money. "That's the biggest misconception about the holidays is that you have to have money," said Newton. "We all have so many talents and gifts that we can do things for others without spending a dime. That's what the holidays are all about."

Newton's visit was the first stop of his annual Santa Cam day. He donated a total of $15,750 to Sedgefield. He then donated $25,000 at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina for the organizations' Senior Second Helping Program and $25,000 to the SHFBM School Mobile Pantry Program. Devonshire Elementary is one of the host schools. He ended his day with a cooking demonstration and $500 gift cards for needy families at Thomasboro Academy.