Hoops for Hope scores big with local youth
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 02, 2010 | 1804 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Saturday, the eighth annual Hoops for Hope basketball tournament will showcase the talents of the Bartow County Recreation Department's 10 & Under teams while serving as a fundraiser for the Bartow County Employer Committee/HR Council.

Held at the Hamilton Crossing Park's Houston Suggs Youth Recreation Facility, the event will begin at 9 a.m., with the first of two final games starting at 6 p.m. During the tournament, which starts Friday, each of the 21 teams are guaranteed to play two games, where the clock will run for 20 minutes.

"It's like a little tournament for the coaches to see where they're at and it's fun for the kids because there's door prizes ... all day long that we give away," said Leslie McMillan, the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce liaison for the Employer Committee/HR Council and a part-time seasonal employee of the Bartow County Recreation Department. "[The Employer Committee] also provides the children with T-shirts and goody bags for playing. It's a really fun event. It's the kickoff of basketball season. They just started practicing the week before Thanksgiving."

Along with concession sales, the proceeds from door prize and raffle tickets, and sponsorships from the business community will benefit the Employer Committee/HR Council's efforts with the community's youth.

To date, the group already has secured $4,600 in monetary and in-kind donations. While door prize tickets will cost $1 each, raffle tickets will range from $1 to $5 and the top two prizes will include a $250 gift certificate for a Panama City condo vacation, supplied by Parnick and Tina Jennings; and an overnight stay and breakfast for two at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cartersville and a $50 gift certificate from Allen's Florist. The raffle tickets can be purchased up to the drawing on Dec. 15.

"It is the largest fundraiser for this group," said Jennifer Stephens, employment marketing representative for the Georgia Department of Labor's Cartersville Career Center and secretary of the Employer Committee/HR Council. "Typically anything else that we do is minimal compared to this. This is our big fundraiser event that brings in the money that is used to provide scholarships and money towards the Bartow Give a Kid a Chance [that provides] school supplies, health screenings, clothing and haircuts for the kids."

"Last year, we raised roughly $5,000," she said, adding the funds enabled the committee to award high school seniors with $1,750 in need-based college scholarships and $3,000 to the Bartow Give a Kid a Chance program. "Obviously this year our hope is to raise more than that but in these tough economic times it's just becoming more and more difficult. But we hope to exceed that."

Consisting of about 20 active members, the Employer Committee/HR Council meets the first Tuesday of each month at various locations.

"The Department of Labor Employer Committee, that is actually a group of local business representatives, typically [human resource] people, that establish and maintain a working relationship between the Department of Labor and the employer community, where the partnership involves acting as a sounding board for any proposed and ongoing department policies, programs [and] that sort of thing; identifying and recommending ways to meet community- and employment-related needs; furthering employer awareness of the Department of Labor and what we do offer, that basically we are more than the unemployment office; and also providing and obtaining assistance to and from Georgia and all the workforce partners that we have here," Stephens said. "What happened was years ago the Chamber had an HR Council and we had the Employer Committee. Well, it was the same people meeting and discussing the same issues. So, at that point, somebody made the decision to combine the two."

The Hoops for Hope fundraiser has netted the Employer Committee/HR Council two statewide recognitions at the Georgia Employer Committee Conference, the most noteworthy being the Community Service Project of the Year in 2007.

"Part of our purpose is to not only to work in this community but to give back as much as we can and ... the way that we do this is with this tournament," Stephens said. "I think that back in probably 2001 or 2002 we borrowed this idea from a neighboring community and basically took it and ran with it.

"And, of course, obviously we've earned more or had greater success in year's past when [economic] times were better and people could loosen their purse strings a little more. It's just really, really hard these days so any donations that the community gives are always appreciated because it does go back into the community in the form of helping our youth and that's our future."

For more information or to purchase a raffle ticket, call Stephens at 770-387-3760 or Deborah Sexton at 678-640-2692.