A stroke of luck or a blessing?

With just 25 cents in her pocket, Sandra Thompson made a purchase that would change her life forever, when she bought a lottery ticket as young woman, back in 1976. Was it a stroke of luck or a blessing?

Being one of the oldest in a family of 14 siblings presented many challenges for Thompson. Life was tough growing up and being one of the eldest meant that she had to nurture her younger brothers and sisters through the difficult times that her family faced. It was from these responsibilities that she discovered her love for children and would often tell her family about her dream of taking care of children as her community lacked a pre-school at the time.

“Our house was so small, that if we had to change our mind, we had to go outside and do it,” she said while chuckling at the memories of her youth. “Things were hard, but we were always content and very grateful for the things that we had.”

One day, on her way home from work, Thompson felt a strange urge to purchase a lottery ticket. She was further influenced by Ms. Warde, an old woman who sat next to the lottery vendor that encouraged her to try her luck and purchase a ticket.

Thompson was hesitant to make the purchase as she was down to her last 25 cents. She thought about all the things that she could have purchased with that 25 cents at the time. She eventually dismissed the feeling of hesitation, bought the ticket and went home to her family.

The next morning, she nervously checked the newspapers to see the lottery results, one by one she compared the numbers on her ticket to those published in the paper. Thompson slowly realized that the numbers matched and she began shouting “We win! We Win!”

Her now deceased elder sister Patsy, hearing the commotion, was not easily convinced and told her, “Girl, win what. You can’t win a fly far less for a lottery.” Thompson replied “Yes, girl we win! Come and look at the numbers.” After carefully checking the ticket and the newspaper, Patsy realized that her sister had indeed won and after her initial shock wore off, both siblings started celebrating.

“We started jumping and thanking Jesus because I believe he gave this to us. Nobody can tell me that there is no God,” said Thompson.

The 24-year-old Thompson won $5000 on that fateful day in 1976 and her winnings allowed her to improve her family’s standard of living. With her winnings, she purchased a new house for her family, one with enough space to fulfil her dream of owning a pre-school and thus The S and J Pre-School was established to provide the community of Cocorite with an educational institution for young children.

Now, some 43 years later, Thompson still runs her pre-school. Currently known as the Sweet Jesus Pre-School, the school is located at Freedom Street in Cocorite, overlooking the Main Road and nearby Basketball court.

Using her winnings, Thompson gave the children in the community a little treat as a form of Thanksgiving, a practice she has continued in her school annually. It’s an event that both students and past students look forward to.

Over the years, Thompson and her sisters, Gracie and the late Jennifer, have been fortunate to have taught many students who started their education at the school and today, they’re teaching the children and even grandchildren of those past students.

Some may attribute her success to luck, but for Sandra Thompson and her sisters, it was indeed a life changing blessing from God.