PALESTINE — Thanks to the generosity of shoppers who graced Bealls department store in Palestine this past March, the Anderson County Sheriff's Office Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program is now more than $1,500 richer.
On Monday, store manager Regan King presented a check to Anderson County Sheriff Deputy Pat Douthit-Green, who teaches the semester-long course. The donation comes as part of the Stage Stores, Inc. “30 Days of Giving” campaign, an offshoot of its corporate social responsibility program Community Counts.
Through the company's directive, King said the local store was allowed to choose a charity or organization to sponsor during the month of March, and the local DARE program was selected. At the point of purchase, clerks asked customers if they would like to contribute to the local program and 30 days later had collected a total of $1,566.
Taylor said that fifth-grade students in Anderson County public schools go through a semester of the DARE training, which aims to provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug and violence free lives.
He said he was surprised at the amount of money raised by the campaign and appreciative to Bealls for their sponsorship — especially considering the DARE program is largely funded by donations.
“Any extracurriculars that DARE does is funded by donations,” Taylor said. “We give awards to kids, we give T-shirts to kids, we give bicycles, workbooks and stuff like that, and sometimes the school will pay for them but sometimes we have to pay for those as well, so all that comes from donations.”
Taylor added that Bealls' contribution was “a pretty big donation” — a point noted by Green.
“This will help us to purchase graduation T-shirts and other supplies for the program,” Green said. “We are so appreciative. I just think it's awesome.”
In addition to funds raised through the 30 Days of Giving campaign — for which 100 percent goes to benefit the organization — Stage Stores Inc, also makes a contribution.
“We appreciate Bealls very much for (their sponsorship), and the kids do too,” Taylor said.