Benefit reaches for goal
LaGRANGE — The William J. Griggs Recreation Center on Saturday was full of cheers, the sound of a dribbling basketball and squeak of sneakers on the gym floor for a game organized to benefit the annual back-to-school program Haircutz & Stylez 4 Kidz.
The back-to-school event, approaching its ninth year, has been annually organized by Michael Fannin, a third grade teacher at Callaway Elementary School, as part of the group Positive Contributions. The event — previously called just Haircutz 4 Kidz — has grown each year and not only offers the free haircuts for youngsters, but is a full-fledged event featuring games and activities on the Griggs center grounds, and it provides children in need with school supplies.
This year, Fannin decided to host a fundraiser to help him with the cost of the event. He tapped partners Maggie Porter and Mitch Hill to help conceive a benefit.
“I’ve never done a fundraiser for my Haircutz 4 Kidz, so I talked to a few people,” he said. “I wanted to figure out a way to raise money to put this event — Haircutz & Stylez 4 Kidz — on blast, so why not do a basketball game?”
The product was Positive Contributions’ First Annual Rookies vs. Veterans Basketball Game. To help organize the event Fannin reached out to some young basketball players and Southern Empire team coach James “Scoot” Harrison to help spread the word. Supporters also put the event on social media.
“It started off slow, people got to feel it out … then yesterday my phone was blowing up, like, ‘Can I play?’ ‘Can I play?’ ‘Can I play?’ ‘Do you have everybody?’ ‘Do you have everybody?’ ‘Do you have everybody?’” Fannin said Saturday.
The game featured two games, one for males and one for females, with opposing teams of rookies and veterans. The rookies team was composed of players from high school ages to 24. The veterans were ages 25 and up.
The veteran women’s team defeated the rookies in their game, and the male rookie team defeated the veterans.
The first in what Fannin hopes will be an annual event, Saturday’s game was bittersweet. Hill, who helped Fannin organize the event, passed away the day before. Attendees held a moment of silence before the start of the game in his memory.
However, Fannin was encouraged by the turnout.
“Honestly, it’s surprising, very surprising,” he said.
The benefit raised more than $500, Fannin said.
He was thankful to those who attended, participated and helped him organize the event. He said the proceeds will help pay for the activities, food and supplies offered during the event, and, Fannin hopes, help tip the barbers who volunteer their time to help.
“Haircutz and Stylez 4 Kids … it’s important, it’s a positive thing that the community gets to be a part of … as far as helping the kids, the less fortunate,” Fannin said. “It gives them the opportunity to come in and get a haircut. We feed the kids and it’s just a fun day. … Fun day, inexpensive day for the parents, and it lets (the children) have fun.”
This year’s Haircutz & Stylez 4 Kidz is set for Aug. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Griggs center with entertainment, games and food.
A supply giveaway is set for Aug. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m., also at the Griggs center. Only children who are pre-registered will receive supplies. Pre-registration is open until Aug. 5 at the Griggs center.