Sweepstakes Winner Donates Winnings, Spurs 'Pay it Forward' Contest

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Thirty thousand dollars can buy a lot of paper products - products that now belong to the Iola Independent School District - thanks to the efforts of a woman who says she just wants the make the world a little brighter.

Lori Denman is a retired chef from Iola, who has a unique hobby of entering sweepstakes - and it has paid off. Last month, Denman was notified that she'd won $30,000 worth of paper products to go to the school of her choosing as part of the Neenah Paper Company's "Live a Brighter Year" sweepstakes. The prize also came with a $500 gift card for Lori's own use.

Denman made the decision to donate the paper products to Iola Elementary School, and use her gift card as prize money for a contest that she herself decided to come up with -- a "Pay It Forward" contest for the Iola Elementary students. She says her idea was for students to use some of the donated products to make a poster or collage as an artistic version of what they feel "pay it forward" means. Denman's $500 gift card was donated to provide prize money for the student in each class with the highest voted poster.

A spokesman for Neenah Paper was on hand at a pep rally held Friday to present Ms. Denman and the Iola School District with a check, as well as award the student contest winners their individual prizes.

Those winners were also honored Friday evening during the Iola High School football game.

Lori Denman says she is happy to have received such a positive response from the contest.

"Giving is a gift that can change someone's life," said Denman, who says that the whole process was "pretty amazing."

Iola's Curriculum Director Paula Golden reports that Iola ISD is excited to take part in the contest, which has, as Lori Denman described, "caught on like wildfire".

When asked why she took the time and effort to go out of her way to help, Lori Denman's answer was simple: "Kindness goes a long way."