By GRACE GADDY
As the weather reaches near perfection, the public is invited to come out this Friday to Reagan Park to enjoy a plate of Texas barbeque — while also making an effort to prevent child abuse in Anderson County.
The barbeque fundraiser is hosted by the local volunteer organization, Anderson County Child Welfare Board, arranged also in observation of Child Abuse Awareness Day.
The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Reagan Park pavilion located next to the tennis courts. At 12:15 p.m., an awareness ceremony will begin, with Child Welfare Board Chair Joe Coleman and County Judge Robert Johnston offering a proclamation.
Immediately following the ceremony, 71 blue balloons will be released into the air, which represent the 71 children who had to be removed from their homes this past year in Anderson County, according to Coleman.
The $7 lunch includes a plate of brisket and sausage, with beans, potato salad and a bottled water.
Community members who are not able to attend can opt to order plates for delivery, provided the delivery address is within the city limits.
“We want then to come, but if they can't come, we will deliver to them,” Child Welfare Board secretary Susan Dorsey said.
A minimum of five orders is required for delivery and must be placed prior to 10:30 a.m. Friday. To order, call Dorsey at 903-948-1640.
Dorsey said that funds raised will benefit the Anderson County Rainbow Room, an emergency resource center that distributes new items such as food, clothing and diapers to clients of Child Protective Services (CPS) in Anderson County.
Many times, when a CPS caseworker enters a home, they find families living in deplorable conditions — children sleeping on floors without a mattress, with little to no food or clothing, for instance. Thanks to the Rainbow Room, assistance with these basic needs is provided through the generous donations of Anderson County residents and businesses.
While child abuse awareness is something observed throughout the state, Coleman said the barbeque fundraiser is new this year, planned and organized by members of the Child Welfare Board.
“This is national Child Abuse Awareness month in April, and this year we're also adding the fundraiser to it,” he said. “We encourage the entire public to come out and support our children and our fundraiser.”
According to a press release, the Child Welfare Board is a group of local volunteers who have “a passion to assist in meeting children's needs that cannot be met by the limited state funding of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.”
The board strives in educating the public on child abuse prevention and working towards ensuring that all children can grow up in a safe environment.
Figures released by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services show that in 2013, 156 Texas children died from abuse and neglect. Thankfully though, Coleman said no lives were lost in Anderson County.
The barbeque fundraiser is sponsored by Encompass Home Health and Grace Visiting Nurses.
For more information, or to donate to the Rainbow Room, contact the Palestine Resource Center for Independent Living at 903-729-7505. The center is located at 421 Avenue A.