By Alexandria Hoff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A few lucky folks in South Philadelphia won the lottery tonight, but not the kind you’re likely thinking of. This is a lottery with education as the prize.

The gift of education is priceless — it changes a person’s whole life.

The event looked like a holiday banquet and it’s supposed to, because that’s what several special attendees were told it was.

“I am a single mother of four kids and it’s really hard for me right now,” Nigeria Rogers said.

The special guests are lottery applicants for the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia.

The event was held inside Lincoln Financial Field and when a back room opened up — with Swoop, Eagles cheerleaders and former player Jason Avant inside — the real surprise was revealed.

“There’s another reason why we asked you to come tonight and the reason is that you’ve all been awarded scholarships for next year,” said Jim Robinson, executive director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia.

“I felt like my heart stopped. I am so excited, everything in me. I am just so thankful,” mother Teneatra Christie said.

Christie was one of those parents who found out that she will now be able to send her sons to a tuition-based school of her choice.

“They understand that they will be going to a new school but I don’t think they understand what a privilege it is at this time,” she said.

The Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia currently serves 5,300 children attending more than 170 K-8 tuition-based schools in the region.

“The kickoff happened back in September, as far as applications were concerned, so people were filing applications and through those applications we drew a number of names and those few hundred individuals were notified,” Robinson said.

Recipients who weren’t in the room learned of the good news over the phone.

For Rogers, a mom and college student studying for a law degree, this is a night that changes her family’s whole life.

“They are going to grow up and be bright and smart. They are going to be able to go to college like their mom. They already look up to me and we all do our homework together and this is a blessing, amazing, and I’m going to help them and be involved in the schools. I can’t wait,” Rogers said.

Another lottery drawing will be held in March. Applications for that are still being accepted.

Alexandria Hoff