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Community connecting for a cause
blowout 7
Destiny Bradshaw, right, is shown with Nicole Pol, who won a drawing for an HP laptop at the conclusion of the Back-to-School Blowout.

Dear Editor,

Thank you to everyone for making the third annual United Way Back-to-School Blowout a successful event. This was the first year we didn’t need shelter from the rain. Although I think many of those waiting in line wished they had umbrellas to help shield them from the sun! With the sunshine came the crowd. We had a phenomenal turnout this year! There were over 1,100 people in attendance and over $1,300 raised to further support United Way’s HELP (Hope for Everyone Looking for Provisions) program.

None of this would have been possible without the wonderful collaborative effort between United Way’s e-CONNECT program and the Effingham Recreation Department. Special thanks once again to Clarence Morgan and Brenda Bruner for allowing us to utilize the gym and grounds at the recreation department.

Special thanks to our platinum sponsors Amerigroup and Wellcare of Georgia. Thank you Wellcare of Georgia for providing the entertainment of Magic Marc for the second year in a row to help entertain the long-awaiting crowd outside.

Lots of work and many long hours go on behind the scenes to make this event happen. I would like to give special recognition to the Gulfstream Community Volunteer Program. Through UW Hands On Savannah, we were introduced to this wonderful group of volunteers. Twelve employees came for a planned one-time, one-day, three-hour volunteer project to help us fill bags with school supplies. After coming in to volunteer an additional weekend and over 80 volunteer hours later, they helped us to fill over 370 school supply bags, utilizing many of their own resources. They got so involved and consumed in the cause that they even came back on the day of the event and volunteered!

Special thanks also to my wonderful staff, Stephanie Cheeks, Sondra Burns and our newest addition to the e-CONNECT team, Candice Shaufelberger, for their hard-working efforts to prepare for this year’s event. What an awesome staff! They are always up to the task of working beyond their scheduled duties for the greater good of the community. They are a blessing.

Thank you to all of the participating barbers and stylists for providing over 100 free back-to-school haircuts, without hesitations! I do believe the hair cutting station was the highlight of the event! One mom shared that the $60 she saved in haircuts for her three children was an unexpected gift that allowed her to spend money on other needs for her children.

Participating shops/salons included: Color Me Crazy, Cuts by Eric, Joey’s Barber Shop, Pete’s Cuts & Styles, Salon J Hair Spa and Salon Nevaeh. Thank you to Sport Clips for donating 15 free haircut vouchers!

Thank you Walmart and Coca-Cola for providing the refreshments for the event.

Thank you Amerigroup, Ashley Boyette with State Farm, Dottie Whitfield, RSM Project, Homeless Education Program and Gulfstream Community Volunteer Program for providing raffle items.

To all of the following businesses and organizations, thank you for your continued support and for making the event a wonderful success:
Amerigroup Community Care
Arby’s, Rincon
Dairy Queen, Rincon
Department of Juvenile Justice
Effingham County 4H
Effingham County Health Department
Effingham County Recreation and Parks
Effingham County Schools
Effingham RSM Project
Effingham Victim Witness
EMS-Emergency Medical Service
Family Connection    
Goodwill of the Coastal Empire
Homeless Education Program
Life Star
Parent University-Effingham
Peach State Health Plan
Rincon Chiropractic
Rincon Noon Lion’s Club
Sonic, Rincon
Teach Right
WellCare of Georgia

I would like to send out a big thank you to DJ-A.K. (Mareon Akins) for sticking with the crowd outside.

I love supporting local businesses and giving budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to shine.  Thank you to Ronderrance Kent of Egg Head Productions for designing the first UW Back-to-School Blowout T-shirt. Wonderful job!

Thank you Roxy and Emily Miller of Rincon Packaging and Shipping for face painting. Your hard work throughout the event is greatly appreciated. They braved the elements and painted faces outside — well after 7:30 p.m.

Thanks to Nick Springer of Treutlen House for coming out early to set up and grill 1,000 hot dogs … and we still ran out of food.

Cadet Adam Daugherty, Cadet Airman James Jolin and Cadet Airman Christopher Palmer of the Civil Air Patrol, Effingham Cadet Squadron arrived in uniform and ready to volunteer in any capacity needed. We look forward to them joining us next year and bringing additional cadets with them!

Lastly, a shout-out to the Effingham Sherrif’s Office for being on the scene and keeping the traffic under control.

This was a lot to keep track of and I most definitely hope I didn’t leave anyone out. Thanks to everyone again for collaborating to create such a successful event! Now let’s get planning for next year. We hope you’ll join us as we work in partnership to continually bless others in need!

Destiny Bradshaw
Program Manager
e-CONNECT (Effingham Community Network Navigation Center) and HELP (Hope for Everyone Looking for Provisions)