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Failed fundraiser brings tiny Stone County village together

Submitted to Branson Globe

What started out as a fundraiser for a storm siren has turned into a weekly meal program for a small rural community in Stone County.

McCord Bend Village Trustees Lou Boswell, from left, Craig Shirkey and Mandi Carr, along with other volunteers including Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grants Committee Chairman Nita Jane Ayres, served 80 meals July 11. Photo courtesy of Nita Jane Ayres

McCord Bend Village Trustee Chairman Mandi Carr explained that the stay-at-home order went into place just days before the village was set to raise funds for a storm siren. Between bad weather and the stay-at-home order, the fundraiser – a cookout on the river during the opening of spoonbill season - was a bust. The failed fundraiser was not the village’s biggest concern however. Village trustees found themselves with a freezer full of hamburgers and hotdogs and a community reeling from the devastating effects of the stay-at-home order, the stay-at-home order that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many people in our community are low-income,” Carr said. “After the stay-at-home order was put into place, most of our residents found themselves unemployed and waiting to receive unemployment benefits.”

She said many residents struggled to put food on their tables and provide meals for their children.

“The food provided to families with children by the school system made a difference, but still left many gaps unfilled,” Carr explained. “There are many families without school-age children and many individuals who were unable to get to groceries due to health concerns.”

The board soon decided to do what they could to help. They tapped into the village’s emergency fund and began providing hot meals to village residents, serving on average 75 meals each week.

Village board members have also stepped up, volunteering, donating food and equipment. In addition to the hot meals, board members volunteered to run errands and get groceries for those at-risk.

“As residents of our small community and board trustees, we know our neighbors,” Carr said. “We know they are struggling. As trustees, we take our positions seriously, in the sense of being responsible for the overall wellbeing of our community.”

When the village neared the point of exhausting their resources, Carr turned to Skaggs Foundation for additional help. The foundation provided the village with $2,500 to purchase a new grill, refrigerator and freezer, food and supplies.

“We are so honored and grateful for this generosity,” she said. “You really have no idea what a great thing this project has been. It has brought our community closer together.”

This is the second time the village of McCord Bend received funding from Skaggs Foundation. In late 2018, the village received a $4,875 Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant to begin an AED/CPR program. They used the funds to purchase two AEDs and a state-of-the-art outdoor cabinet that, when the cabinet doors are opened, calls 911. In addition to the cabinet and AEDs, they also provided CPR training to community members.

To learn more about Skaggs Foundation, visit SkaggsFoundation.org.

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