"Even before the day [we] started 20 years ago, Cartersville Service League has been behind us, not only financially, but their support, their guidance, their leadership," said Gilley, chief professional officer for the local Boys & Girls Clubs, which serves about 250 students daily at its Cartersville and Adairsville units. "No single entity has been as supportive of the Boys & Girls Clubs as the Cartersville Service League.
"They've been phenomenal. They're here all the time. They volunteer [with our Cartersville programs]. They're always calling me individually, collectively going, 'What else can we do?' I don't know what we'd do without them. .... They are always thinking of the club."
As with many of its beneficiaries, the Service League's financial contributions also are instrumental to the Boys & Girls Clubs' operations. Last year, the League's donations accounted for about 9 percent of the nonprofit's annual budget.
In order for the 43-member service organization to exceed its total donations in 2010, the group is relying on the generosity of the public. In April, the Service League distributed more than $60,000 among more than 30 local charities.
The next opportunity for the community to support the Service League is Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. with the organization's Ways and Means dance. Titled "Cocktails for a Cause," the dance at the Clarence Brown Conference Center will feature a buffet, beer, wine and a live DJ. There also will be a silent auction, with items for bid ranging from a photography package to vacation home opportunities.
Proceeds from the Ways and Means dance will be combined with funds generated from two rummage sales and a poinsettia sale, with the total amount to be dispersed among more than 25 charities in April. Along with the Boys & Girls Clubs, some of this year's recipients include Advocates for Children, Bartow County Women's Resource Center and the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter.
"We have a committee called Project Search and they take applications from different organizations that are requesting funds," said Dana McElwee, who is co-chairing the dance along with Cindy Thompson. "They fill out an application for where their need is and what the money would be used for. We have a committee that takes all this money from the dance and the two rummage sales, fall and spring, and the poinsettia sales, and then they go through those applications and they disperse that money. It's a wide range [of charities]. ... Our organization, as well as I'm sure everybody, we have seen the [donation] numbers decrease over the last couple of years.
"We still put in the same amount of legwork and people can only [financially] do what they can do and [the nonprofits] are so appreciative of whatever they can [contribute]. We just hope that people will recognize the tradition and the reputation of the Service League and continue to support [us] because all of the money stays right here in Bartow County. It doesn't go anywhere else."
Established in 1941, the Cartersville Service League is comprised of Bartow County women, who serve six-year terms and volunteer at least 30 hours per year in the community.
Along with tutoring children weekly at the Boys & Girls Club's Cartersville Unit, some of their volunteer efforts include conducting hearing and vision screenings for kindergarten students in the Bartow County School System; distributing a meal on Sunday evenings to Flowering Branch Children's shelter residents; and volunteering with the Special Olympics Committee in Bartow County. They also equip area children with school supplies, gifts and necessities throughout the year.
Tickets to "Cocktails for a Cause" can be purchased in advance for $40 and at the door for $45. Prior to the benefit, tickets can be obtained at Write on Main, 2A Wall St. in Cartersville. No one younger than 21 will be admitted to the fundraiser. Attire will be cocktail casual and there will be a $2 charge for mixed drinks. Sponsorships also are available, with donation levels ranging from $100 to $1,000.
For more information about the Service League fundraiser, call McElwee at 770-312-3730 or visit www.cartersvilleserviceleague.com.