Hoops for Hope is entering its ninth year, giving kids an opportunity to have fun and be active while raising money for underprivileged children through Bartow Give a Kid a Chance.
In July, before classes begin, school-aged children who qualify are given essential tools to better tackle the coming school year.
"Bartow Give a Kid a Chance is an amazing program," said Jennifer Stephens, GDOL marketing representative. "What Bartow Give a Kid a Chance does is not only provide these children with school supplies and backpacks but also health screenings -- that's dental, vision, hearing, haircuts, usually a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, right down to a sack lunch on the day of distribution."
Bartow Give a Kid a Chance creates a one-stop shop for children in need to be better prepared for school but the efforts of some 200 volunteers serving nearly 1,500 students would not be possible without the event's largest single contributor, the Bartow County Employer Committee/HR Council.
"The unemployment rate in Bartow is still at record levels," Stephens said. "I know little by little the economy is inching upward, but it's not as fast as it needs to be. It's going to be a long recovery. The numbers of kids that were served is indicative of the fact that [Bartow Give a Kid a Chance] is needed."
The employer committee is a statewide organization through which local committees work to improve their community. The Bartow County employer committee regularly provides seminars and workshops for human resource professionals as well as small business owners and others who may benefit from information relating to labor laws, taxes and workforce management. The organization hosts Hoops for Hopes each year as its largest fundraiser benefitting Bartow Give a Kid a Chance and college scholarships for local teens.
"[Hoops for Hope] actually jump starts the county recreation basketball league," Stephens said. "This money goes to Bartow Give a Kid a Chance and toward needs-based college scholarships."
Last year's offering was the largest yet seeing 150 children, 10 and under, participating in the co-ed tournament. Held at the Hamilton Crossing gym, Hoops for Hope last year had to add an extra day of play beginning on Friday evening before the tournament was slated to begin on Saturday.
Stephens remarked on how long the event has been held and wondered aloud about the reciprocal possibilities when working with children for so long within a community.
"The kids are always excited. ... These are the same kids we are serving with Bartow Give a Kid a Chance," Stephens said. "We've been doing this for nine years; we may actually have some children that played in the basketball tournament that raised the money initially that are now of age to be scholarship recipients."
Sponsors are being sought to help ready the December event. Monetary and in-kind donations are accepted. Door prizes and raffle items are an integral part of the Dec. 3 fundraiser. Throughout the day, door prizes are given away and raffle tickets are sold for larger prizes given after the event.
For more information, call Stephens at 770-387-3760 or committee chair Deborah Sexton at 678-640-2692.