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Born a winner

Elliot Robins, the newborn son of Joey and Sarah Robins, is already saving for college. The infant won a $529 college savings account when he was born Sunday.

Elliot Robins, the newborn son of Joey and Sarah Robins, is already saving for college. The infant won a $529 college savings account when he was born Sunday.

Elliot Thomas Robins was born a winner.

Elliot — a 7-pound-2-ounce newborn who left Sentara Obici Hospital on Tuesday — is one of 21 Virginia babies starting out life with a down payment on his college tuition.

As part of a promotional campaign, Virginia529 College Savings Plan awarded a $529 college savings account to the infant born closest to 5:29 p.m. May 29 at Obici.

One newborn at each of the 21 participating hospitals across the state received saving accounts.

Elliot was born at 7:17 p.m., winning the college savings account by two minutes, according to Hattie Boone, director of Obici’s Women’s Center. The next closest was born at 3:39 p.m., she said.

Upon learning of his luck, Elliot just stretched, yawned and dozed.

But his parents, Joey and Sarah Robins of Deep Creek, were excited.

“It’s a blessing, especially since we weren’t expecting it,” said Sarah Robins, grinning down at the infant curled up her arms. “It’s a great bonus.”

It wasn’t until Sarah was in labor that the Robinses learned they had an opportunity to win the scholarship account, added Joey Robins.

Their midwife tossed it out as a little incentive in the delivery room, Sarah Robins said.

“We didn’t think we had a shot at getting it,” she said.

Joey Robins said the couple plans to open a similar saving account for their 3-year-old daughter, Emma, soon.

May 29 is recognized nationwide as 529 College Savings Day. Besides giving accounts to newborns, Virginia529 is giving away a $1,000 bonus contribution to a new account holder each day through May 31. Anyone who opens a Virginia529 inVEST account with $25 or more is qualified for the daily drawing.

Earnings on savings in 529 accounts are free from state and federal taxes when used for qualified higher education expenses, according to Virginia529’s press release. Virginia taxpayers also get a state individual income-tax deduction of up to $4,000 per account per year.

Having the accounts when the children are so young will motivate the couple to add to them frequently, Joey Robins said. The accounts will also be a good place to invest money that the kids are given as birthday and Christmas gifts, he said.

Education is high priority for the couple. Joey Robins is an assistant principal at G.A. Treakle Elementary School in Chesapeake; Sarah taught fifth grade at the school until she became a stay-at-home mother three years ago.