ELIZABETHTOWN — “April showers bring May flowers,” the saying goes, but April also brings with it something else to Bladen County — Bladen We Care’s annual gala.
The gala, presented this year by Smithfield, is in its 27th year and will be held at The Venue at White Lake for the second year in a row.
“Last year was our first year having it at The Venue,” said Mac Campbell, president of Bladen We Care, “and we probably had the largest crowd we’ve ever had.”
Around 300 people were in attendance last year, he said.
The Black Water Rhythm and Blues Band will be providing the music for attendees who want to kick up their heels, and several live auctions will be taking place for those who want to try out their skills in that area. Cash prizes in the amount of $2,000 and $1,000 will be raffled off to two lucky winners. Attire for the event, as the invitation reads, is “snappy casual,” and food for guests will be provided in the form of heavy hors d’oeuvres.
For Campbell, however, the event is, and always has been, about helping people in need.
“We want to make as much money as possible for Bladen We Care,” he stated. “That’s our goal.”
Bladen We Care got its start 27 years ago when Campbell and some acquaintances were talking about someone they knew who needed assistance but didn’t qualify for any. After helping that individual, the group decided to focus on hospice patients, but, as their awareness of the great need in Bladen County rose, they decided to try and provide more assistance.
“Over the 27 years, we have raised and spent more than $1 million,” said Campbell.
Last year alone, the group provided $50,000 in institutional grants to Bladen Crisis Assistance, Cape Fear Valley Hospital, and the Bladen Baptist Association. They also used that money to improve student health at the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy and at Elizabethtown Middle School. In keeping with the desire to improve wellness, the organization endowed a health teaching position at Bladen Community College and funded a scholarship for the school’s nursing program.
Also, 240 people who could not afford to pay for prescription drugs were helped by the group’s generosity to obtain necessary medication. In addition, 40 people suffering from terminal illnesses, who were facing the possibility of utility service interruption, were given utility grants. Bladen We Care has also provided help with glasses, medical travel expenses, medical equipment, and dental care.
“We all have an opportunity to serve at some level, and we are blessed to have this right here in Bladen County to help make lives better in some small way,” said Campbell.
The gala will be held on Friday, April 8, from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Venue at White Lake. Tickets are $100 per couple, and may be purchased at Campbell Oil, the Elizabethtown/White Lake Chamber of Commerce, The Venue, Fisher’s, or from any committee member. For information, call Kim at 862-8423, Ext. 221.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.