Give a helping hand this Saturday
by The Press and Standard | April 4, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: April 3, 2019 at 2:05 pm
HELPING HANDS. The founders of Colleton County Helping Hands pose with their sons among the boxes of donated items that made their way into the school district’s Special Needs program after last year’s fundraiser. Shown are, left to right, Lacey Persianni and son Camden Dewitt; Heather Davis and her son Weston Davis; and Jessica Bloodworth and her son Connor Bloodworth. Their children are kindergarten and first-grade students.
Colleton County Helping Hands returns to the Coastal Outback building on April 6 to continue their quest.
Lacey Persianni, Jessica Bloodworth and Heather Davis, the mothers of Special Need students, formed the organization last year.
With their young sons entering the county’s school system, they saw that the school district needed a helping hand in providing equipment and materials for the district’s Special Needs therapists and teachers.
They enlisted family and friends in meeting that need, and Colleton County Helping Hands was born. The group, Davis said, “is a lot more than the three moms.”
The first step was to contact the school district’s head physical therapist and head occupational therapist and have them list what they needed to accomplish their mission. The price tag totaled $3,795.50.
Davis, Persianni and Bloodworth got to work, setting up a chicken bog dinner fundraiser at a meeting space provided by Coastal Electric Cooperative.
When the proceeds from that first fundraiser were counted, Colleton County Helping Hands had raised $7,000.
The only things on the therapists’ wish list that weren’t purchased were items that were no longer available or out of stock.
They bought sand timers, squiggle wiggle pens for kids with low control with writing, a weighted shawl and weighted blankets to help with anxiety.
To help the students develop hand-eye coordination, they purchased Wacky Webs, pop tubes, Dolphin Playground, Last Mouse, wire rings, Magnatab and Finger Labyrinth Cards.
To deal with the children’s sensory issues, they bought Gel Maze, Theraputty, Bendeez, Relax Tangle, Jiggly Poppin animals and Panic Pete.
They even bought large quantities of popcorn kernels, long grain rice and pinto beans. Davis said the popcorn, rice and beans are put in large bins and then prizes are hidden inside the bins.
“Then the kids with sensory issues who hate the feel of stuff have to stick their hands in the bins and get it,” Davis explained.
“Some kids, like my son, like the way it feels,” she added. For those students, sticking their hands in the bins offers a different type of therapy. If they become agitated, “They can go to the bins and feel things. It makes them feel better.”
The money also provided physical therapy items like exercise *****, weighted ***** and an exercise ball stand.
One purchase, an Amtryke Therapy Tricycle, is designed to provide for both physical therapy and hand-eye coordination. Davis said the tricycle is designed with special pedals and handlebars to make it easier for the students to hold on.
The therapists needed game chairs for the students to help the Special Needs students work on their core muscles.
“There was a lot of good stuff,” Davis offered.
The some of the proceeds went to cover some of the costs of putting on the fundraiser and the preparation for the next one.
Much of it went into the bank, seed money for Colleton County Helping Hands’ main goal-establishing sensory rooms in each elementary school building in the county.
A basic sensory room, Davis explained, has dim lights so it is not overwhelming and things like fish tanks that calm the room with a couple of beanbag chairs “so they can chill out.”
When in use, she added, the sensory room has to be staffed. She said that teacher assistants can handle those duties.
“To me as a parent, not just a special needs parent, if they can have an art room, a music room, they should have a sensory room,” Davis said.
Special needs students are not the only students to benefit from having a sensory room available. “If you are having a bad day and the teacher can’t seem to calm you down, go to a sensory room for a while,” Davis said. “Any kid could benefit from that, I could benefit from that. If you are being overwhelmed, go lay on the bean bag for a few minutes.”
Colleton County Helping Hands second fundraiser will be held at the Coastal Outback April 6 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. “We like to plan the fundraiser in the month of April because it is Autism Awareness Month,” Davis said. “National Autism Awareness Day is April 2, so wear your blue to support!”
The chicken bog dinner, with green beans, coleslaw, a roll and dessert will be available for $10.
Like last year, Davis said that she expects that the bulk of the chicken bog dinners will be to-go plates, even though there will be seating available for dining in. Face painting will be among the things to keep the children entertained while their parents check out the raffle items that will include a Yeti cooler, grill and griddle combo and a skeet thrower. “We are still collecting items,” Davis added.
This year’s proceeds main purpose will be to meet the classroom needs of the school district’s Special Needs teachers.
“This year, we wrote a letter asking them to list whatever they want or need and hand delivered the letters to each teacher,” Davis said. “Anything the special need kids can use, we are willing to buy it.”
Colleton County Helping Hands has established a social media presence in the past year. They have a Facebook page, @ColletonCounty Helping Hands, an email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, and a PayPal account, PayPal.Me/CCHelpingHands.
“We are hoping to do even better this year,” Davis said. “We are real excited.”