"When I was in the show and going through all the things that contestants have to go through, I was constantly told, and I quickly realized, exactly how much this benefits Advocates and all the many things that they do keeping that shelter going," said Elzey, about his passion for the benefit, which has led him to direct and produce "Every Child is a Star" this year. "And I know that this is one of their primary benefits. ... We also had a great, great director back then.
"Daneise Archer was still doing it. [She is] a phenomenal lady who loved Advocates so much. She did just anything she could to help them. And that's why I came back and wanted to direct it because I saw how much of a difference it made when I was in it and just how much Daneise enjoyed it. I was hoping I could at least make all the contestants realize how much it means to Advocates to have this show going."
Set for Saturday, the talent show is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Woodland High Performing Arts Center, 800 Old Alabama Road in Cartersville. During the event, more than 20 students will showcase their talents, ranging from vocal performances to magic tricks.
"I've seen the show several years, just off and on, and this year, by far, there's great talent from beginning to end," Elzey said. "We've got everything from singing to playing instruments to dancing to magic."
During the contest, participants will be competing in five categories -- primary school, elementary school, middle school, high school and group. Along with bragging rights, each category winner and an overall victor will receive a trophy for their accomplishments.
In the individual categories, the contestants will include: Primary -- Madelyn Brooky and Carmen Jordan; Elementary -- Isabelle Rousseau, Halle Collins, Clay Duke, Kaitlyn Hanks, Jaiyla Ware, Faith Thompson, Marissa Brooky and Brianna Bullock; Middle -- Grant Howard, Andrew Sanford, Rachel Brideau and Darcy Guider; and High -- Ryan Brideau, Hannah Craton and Kaitlynn Millsaps. The group division will be comprised of Jennie Wynn and Erin Knowles, Claire Choate and Samantha Sims, and Unfinished Basement.
In addition to the competition, "Every Child is a Star" also emphasizes community service, requiring each contestant to sell at least 10 tickets for $10 each. Last year, the talent show raised about $5,000 for Advocates for Children, which serves about 2,500 area youth each year through the Flowering Branch Children's Center and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse. Since about 65 percent of Advocates' annual $1.4 million budget is raised by the local community, benefits like "Every Child is a Star" are integral to the nonprofit's success.
"This one is totally focused on children raising money for other children," said Patty Eagar, executive director of Advocates for Children. "That is truly what makes this one different. Most of our others are adults raising money for children. The kids in 'Every Child is a Star,' every one of them has to sell 10 tickets to their families and friends. So they begin to get the idea of philanthropy. So that's what makes this one different.
"It is important to support these kids who are going to be brave and getting up on stage and singing in front an audience with bright lights. They need a lot of people there to support them for doing it in addition to the fact that it's raising needed funds for Advocates' programs in order to break the cycle of child abuse."
Tickets, which can be obtained at the door for $10, can be purchased in advance by calling Advocates at 770-387-1143.