The Anson County Partnership for Children’s 8th annual Barn Blast on Friday netted a profit of over $70,000, and helped sponsor more than 800 children for the Partnership’s Dolly Parton reading program.
Fundraiser attendees had the opportunity to provide different levels of sponsorship for children in the county to participate in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, which provides a free book to every child from birth until age 5. Last year, 290 children were sponsored. This year, 833 were.
This year, the “Sponsor a a Child for Morgan” donations were made in honor of Morgan Lastowski, who died last July. Morgan, the granddaughter of Partnership staff member Bonnie Morgan and her husband, Ronnie, was only 2 1/2 years old when she died, but possessed a love for books. She was born during the week of Barn Blast 2011.
Morgan’s parents, Emily and Kevin Lastowski, grandparents, Frank Lastowski and Bonnie and Ronnie Morgan, and an aunt and uncle all attended the Barn Blast. Emily spoke about her daughter’s love of books. Although Morgan had developmental delays in areas including speaking, Emily said she loved to read independently or let her “Bama” (Bonnie) read to her. Morgan’s exception to her “book rule” was to let Emily read a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library book to her called “All of Baby, Nose to Toes.”
In addition to sponsoring children for the free literacy program, attendees were able to purchase auction items and participate in raffles to raise more money for the Partnership. In addition to three silent auctions that included items ranging from hand-crocheted scarves, sake, cakes and roses, guests also bid on wines, antique cane chairs, an Anson Fine Living package, and a handmade “Goodnight Moon” quilt that sold for over $800.
Profits from the sales will go toward several of the Partnership’s services, including Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Raising a Reader, Reach Out and Read, Motheread, Books for Kids, Teen Information and Parenting Services (TIPS), Child Passenger Safety Seat Permanent Checking Station, N.C. Pre-Kindergarten, Child Care Subsidy Enhancement, Child Care Resource and Referral, Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC), Education Support Program, and Shape NC.
Several special guests also attended the event. In addition to Morgan’s family, Rep. Justin Burr, Rep. Mark Brody, Dr. Nancy Brown (N.C. Partnership for Children board chair) and Diane Umstead (N.C. PC community development director) all attended. Special local guests included Dana Manness, president of Anson Bank Trust. Co, and attorney Fred Poisson of Poisson, Poisson and Bower.
The names of this year’s donors to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library who contributed in Morgan’s memory will be inscribed on a plaque that will be hung in the H.B. Allen Library. Donors also received a button with a picture of Morgan that read, “I sponsored a child for Morgan,” and signed the white photo mat surrounding the display photo of Morgan, which her parents will take home to Florida. Dozens of people offered sponsorships, including Brody and Anson County Schools Superintendent Michael Freeman.
Partnerhip director Elaine Scarborough offered thanks to all who attended. “I just want to offer a huge thank-you to everyone who attended and sponsored a child in Morgan’s memory,” she said. “And thank you to Morgan’s parents, Emily and Kevin, for letting us celebrate Morgan’s life. Thank you also to all of our volunteers. We had hundreds — people who gave items for auction, who helped with food, who sponsored events, cooked chicken, donated almost all of our food. So much support came from the community. Students came out and served even though it was a snow day. And a huge thank-you to staff who stayed for hours and hours and hours after their normal work days. We also had huge support from board members.”
Scarborough also thanked presenting sponsors Poisson, Poisson and Bower and Uwharrie Bank, “not only for their generous sponsorship, but for being here and supporting us in so many ways.”
She thanked everyone who came despite the frigid weather. “In spite of the cold weather this week, people really had warm hearts for children,” she said. She also remembered the child whose memory attendees honored. “Morgan smiled all of the time and was such a special child.”
The next Barn Blast will be held on Jan. 30, 2015.