If you’ve been living in the Sandhills for any length of time, then you are surely aware of one of the holiday season’s most anticipated local events: the Festival of Trees at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst. For twenty-one years, the festival has been lighting up the hotel – and people’s spirits – in Moore County around the holidays; last year alone, 12,000 patrons visited the vast display of trees sponsored and decorated by a wide range of local businesses.
But did you know that this isn’t just a holiday event for the sake of the holidays? It’s actually the single biggest annual fundraiser for the Sandhills Children’s Center, the oldest and largest organization serving special needs children (ages birth to five years old) in our community.
“We’d been operating for years under the assumption that people knew who the festival benefitted,” says Robin Duff, one of the organizers of the event. “But recently it’s been made clear that many locals had no idea.
“We really want to get the word out that every dollar raised by this event benefits a child with special developmental needs.”
A worthy cause indeed.
Sandhills Children’s Center was founded in 1970 serving one special needs child. Today, it is a private, non-profit organization that offers an inclusive child developmental day program for children with and without special developmental needs, twelve months a year. The Children’s Center provides educational programs, therapeutic and nutritional services, and family support that help children with disabilities such as Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and other chronic illnesses and developmental delays.
With two campus locations in Southern Pines of Moore County and Rockingham of Richmond County, the Center currently serves over 300 children on a daily basis. Over three-quarters of the children enrolled for developmental disability services come from poverty-level homes. Because of the low economic level of most center families, Sandhills Children’s Center has always maintained its commitment to build financial support for services through contracts with state and area operated programs, and the development of local public and private resources. Absolutely no child has, or will, be denied services due to their family’s economic status.
Fundraisers are critically important as well – especially the Festival of Trees, a huge draw for the community.
Now that you know where your money is going, here’s what you’ll get in return for your generosity when you make the Sandhills Children’s Center Festival of Trees part of your holiday plans:
The Festival and Auction
This year’s festival takes place November 29 through December 3. Wednesday through Saturday, come anytime between 10am and 8pm, and the entrance fee is simple – whatever you choose to donate. Enter this winter wonderland and enjoy over 100 gorgeous trees decorated in various styles, as well as the wreaths, gingerbread houses, and gift baskets you can bid on at the online auction site. Register to bid on over 200 auction items before 6pm on November 28, and you’ll also have a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.
Throughout the festival, you’ll have the chance to participate in the following special events:
Opening Night Premiere
Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. This special evening includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, a host bar, and live entertainment. The night also includes a special “bucket list” auction, such as trips to wine country and other locations. Tickets are $125 per person who is not a sponsor of the event.
Girls’ Night Out
Wednesday, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The Island Time Band will play live music and a cash bar will be available while the women of the Sandhills are welcome to come shop for gifts, participate in a raffle, and bid on more bucket list trips and experiences. Any monetary donation at the door gets you in.
Military Appreciation Night
Thursday, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. No admission at all for our veterans and currently serving members of the military. Come enjoy live music and a cash bar while strolling through the lit displays.
Ultimate Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Friday, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Got an ugly Christmas sweater? The wearer of the ugliest sweater will win a $100 Kohl’s gift card – so you can shop for a really nice Christmas sweater, or anything you like!
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 77 local and regional vendors will be selling holiday gifts and treats, clothing, pottery, jewelry, collectibles, accessories – you’ll find just about everything on your holiday shopping list. Admission is free for shoppers.
This year’s event promises to be the best yet.
“Every year,” Duff says,” I think, wow, we won’t top this year. And yet, whenever the next year rolls around, when it’s all set up and the lights are on and working, it really just puts you in the holiday spirit more than ever before.”
The funds raised from this event are significant and a big reason why SCC never turns away a child in financial need. The goal for the auction alone is always to raise $100,000. Last year, SCC got very close with $94,000. Because the event grows by leaps and bounds every year, Duff is confident that with the community’s support, the auction will hit the goal this time.
Don’t miss your chance to get in the spirit and support a truly meaningful cause at the same time. Visit the festival, attend a special event, bid on an auction item – and you’ll contribute to the reason for the season in more ways than one.
For more information, visit http://sandhillschildrenscenter.org/trees/
With the changing of the seasons coming soon, you as tenants need to be prepared for pest control.
Pests such as rodents, ticks, ghost ants, carpenter ants, silverfish, and roaches are common at this time of year.
Rodents are looking for a warm place to have their offspring, and your home is the perfect place. If you are up in the attic getting holiday decorations you may notice you have an unwelcome guest in the house. Small droppings that are black to brown and noises in the ceiling at night are signs of a rodent problem.
Rodents can get into your home from an opening as small as a quarter. They also tend to travel along tree limbs to and from your home, so trimming trees away from the roof and walls will help.
Other pests common at this time of year are silverfish, roaches, fleas and ticks. Silverfish like warm areas and feeds off insulation, boxes, and material. They can be a real nuisance once inside your home. Roaches like to hide in dark areas and will sometimes get into boxes. Ticks are normally brought in on plants or trees that are placed inside of the home.
Inspecting all boxes and storage containers as they are brought down from the attic is a good way to identify if you have a problem. When you store items in the attic again put them in sealed containers. Before you bring trees and plants inside inspect them for any insects crawling on them.
Checking your home and yard is key to maintaining a pest free environment.
Recommended products for year-round control. These products can save a lot of headache when applied quarterly with the changing of the seasons.
The Race to the Heart of a Child
Upward Basketball Makes a Profound Difference in the Lives of Hundreds of Kids in the Sandhills
It’s a scene you’d only see in a movie: we’re late in the game, and the star player is streaking down the court, dribbling with skill and purpose through a clear lane to an easy basket. Just when you think she’s going to take her shot, she stops, looks to her right, and catches sight of a smaller player – one who’s been shy, timid, and doesn’t possess the mad skills of her teammate. In a show of uncommon team spirit, the star passes her the ball. With the encouragement of all her teammates, coaches, and parents in the stands – including those whose children play for the other team – our timid player heads toward the basket, she shoots, and she…
Well, it sounds like something you’d only see in a movie. But in fact, this is the kind of scene that plays out again and again on Fridays and Saturdays in the fall at Southern Middle School. It’s Upward Basketball. And if you’ve never heard of it, well – then you’ve probably never heard of anything like it.
Back in 2008, the Men’s Group at Aberdeen First Baptist Church was looking for new ways to provide outreach and ministry in their local community. One of the members shared what he knew of a program called Upward Sports, “one of the most amazing programs” he’d ever seen. Not long after that discussion, Rod Fleming moved to the area from South Carolina, where he was involved with Upward Sports in the state where it’s headquartered. Founded in 1995 by Caz McCaslin, the mission of Upward is “Promoting the Discovery of Jesus Through Sports.” They accomplish this in part by providing children with “skills for the sports arena and values for life.” And as McCaslin states, a large part of the mission is to “reclaim youth sports for the benefit of the athlete.”
Fleming readily confirmed the value of the program, and it resonated with church members who also knew the potential that sports have for transforming kids’ lives. With the help of the group’s members – including lifelong basketball devotee Larry Richardson – they founded the local Upward Basketball league.
“More than anything, it’s a way of introducing children to Jesus Christ,” says Richardson, who serves as the league’s director. “And we present athletics in a manner that teaches kids that every player matters, that there is no ‘I’ in team.”
This isn’t just talk and wishful thinking. Upward volunteers conduct a detailed process whereby they all but guarantee that every player on every team will make meaningful contributions and know how it feels to succeed as an athlete. The league performs a pre-season skill evaluation for each child, and when the league is formed, talent is equally distributed. Since the rules mandate man-to-man defense, every player gets an armband that signifies who they are to match up against on the other team to ensure equal ability in talent and size.
“Bottom line,” says Richardson, “it makes every player 100% relevant in the game.”
And while this is a refreshing way to approach youth sports, the real value comes in how sports are used to reach out to youth, develop character, and engender compassion. Regular devotionals are part of the games and the practices. Coaches teach a wide variety of concepts, from passing the ball to respecting one’s parents. And the kids truly care about each other. During one game that Richardson was refereeing in the first or second season the league was in existence, one of the young players approached him with a concern that a teammate of hers, a young man with autism, had yet to score a basket that season. Richardson took matters into his own hands, picked the player up, and made sure the young man got to dunk the ball in the basket.
“His mom says he still talks about that to this day,” says Richardson. And all because of the empathetic kindness of a five-year old teammate.
As a father, Greg Davis can’t recommend the program highly enough. He has been involved for about five years, when his kids began to play.
“I think the biggest thing is that it gives kids an opportunity, no matter what their skill is,” says Davis, who is now also the league’s co-director. “It’s a good league to learn basketball, but it’s a great league to learn about Christ.”
He says his daughters have made friends with kids they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten to know, and as a coach, he watched with great joy as the team he coached three years ago, filled with shy and timid children, learned how to play and grew in both their abilities and their relationships with each other. “They were eager to share devotions, and they just had such fun.”
Richardson agrees that the personal connections made through the program are powerful to witness. “By the end of the season, the coaches hate to see the kids go. They build such strong bonds and relationships. One kindergartener even gave his coach flowers at the end of the season, and wanted to know if he could visit her home.”
Currently in its tenth season, Upward serves around 325 kids through 100 volunteers each week. Practices are held Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and games are played Fridays and Saturdays. “It pretty much takes up your life for a few months,” laughs Richardson. “But we’d want it no other way.”
Going back to the founder’s statement that Upward intends to reclaim youth sports for the benefit of the athlete: it’s clear that the focus is 100% on reaching out to the kids with love.
“This is a race to the heart of a child,” says Richardson, “and the first one to get there wins. We live in a time where so many kids are out on their own and need the kind attention and support of adults committed to their growth – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Ultimately our program is about making a difference in someone’s life. And you know, we get as much or more out of it as the kids do.”
Back to our movie. Our timid player heads toward the basket. She shoots. Everyone waits with baited breath as the ball coasts through the air in slow motion.
Does she make the basket?
It doesn’t matter. Because in this league, everyone scores.
by Sue Kemple
Player evaluations begin on July 31, practices begin the last week of August, and games kick off September 15.Interested in learning more? Go to www.AberdeenFBC.org/Upward, or you can call the church office at 910- 944-1421,or director Larry Richardson at 910-690-4700.
Looking for something different and creative to do in town?
Try out Wine & Design in Southern Pines! Here you choose a painting you like, register for the day its offered, show up and bring your wine (or beer)! The painting will be traced out for you when you arrive so don’t worry if you lack in the artistic aspect.
You’ll be guided through the class as you enjoy your beverage. Be ready for a master piece!
Wine & Design also offers kids camps this summer- spots are limited, so register now!
** Use code SUSAN5OFF for $5 off your class cost!**
Mark your calendars! This Friday, April 14, Live After 5 starts up again!
Come out to James W Tufts Memorial Park in Pinehurst at 5:30 to enjoy live music, food and drinks! The Legacy Motown Revue will be beginning at 6pm- they are a tribute to “The Legacy.” Be ready for throwbacks to The Drifters, The Temptations, The Coasters, The Jacksons, Earth Wind & Fire and several more. Beer, wine, soft drinks and food will be available for purchase.
This event is FREE! You are allowed to bring picnic baskets but no outside alcoholic beverages. Don’t forget blankets, lawn chairs and a smile! There will also be a photo booth, so get there early and get your pictures taken!
Dancing strongly encouraged!
All of us here at Moore County Living are such foodies! We are always going to delicious local places to eat around town. So, we decided to make a list of our top 5!
Buying a Home? Why You Need to Work with Your Own Agent
Many buyers make the mistake of seeing a home, calling the agent representing the home, and trusting that agent to handle all the details of showing and possibly moving forward with a sale. This is a mistake, and one that has nothing to do with the listing agent’s honesty or integrity. The fact is that when an agent lists a seller’s home, that agent’s only job is to represent the seller, not the buyer.
The seller’s agent works for the seller – and although he is bound to deal honestly and fairly with you, he is first and foremost obligated to look out for the seller’s best interests. If you communicate with the seller’s agent, any information you give him may be legally and ethically passed on to the seller. This can put you, as an unrepresented buyer, at a disadvantage.
As a buyer, you need a knowledgeable advocate on your side. You need a buyer’s agent – someone who will represent you and put your needs first. This agent doesn’t represent a specific seller or home you might buy, because if she did, she’d obviously have a conflict of interest. You want an agent who will work to get you the best possible price, and who will make sure that the home you eventually buy is perfect for you.
The right agent can make all the difference between finding the right home and being stuck with the wrong one. You need to take your time to find the agent who will work hard for you. Treat finding an agent like the hiring process it truly is. Gather a few candidates to interview as if you are an employer filling a position. Because you ARE hiring someone to do a job for you, and to do it well.
Effectively Decluttering Your Home
We all have it, we all keep collecting more of it, and when it comes time to sell a house, we all need to unload a bunch of it!
As soon as you decide that you want to sell your house, as early as six or twelve months before you decide to list, your first task is to get a handle on your stuff. Cluttered houses don’t sell, and cluttered houses just add to the stress that automatically comes with selling your home. Dealing with it before you even contact an agent will put you well ahead of the game.
Some quick tips on how to effectively declutter: