By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Achieving Results Foundation awarded $29,882 in grants to local organizations who make an impact on the local community in a ceremony held Wednesday morning.
The SOAR Foundation provides funding for local projects and organizations in the form of matching funds for grants, seed money or start-up money for a new initiatives. This year, they awarded grants to seven projects and organizations.
A total of $1,300 was given to 26 Oktibbeha County G.E.D. graduates who went back to school to complete their high school education in order to have better opportunities. Each student was given $50 to cover the costs of the G.E.D. test and any expenses that graduating may have incurred.
The Oktibbeha County Tuition Guarantee Program at East Mississippi Community College was given $10,000. The program provides tuition for students from Starkville and Oktibbeha County for four semesters to EMCC after federal, state and other private sources have been applied.
“The tuition guarantee program is our way of financially assisting our high school graduates so they can become productive citizens, while giving them hope for the future,” said Charles Weatherly, as he presented the grant to EMCC president, Rick Young.
A grant of $1,000 was given to the Oktibbeha Master Gardeners who planted nearly 40,000 daffodils, tulips and hyacinths throughout Starkville. Jim McKell, the president of the Oktibbeha Master Gardeners said that the flowers were planted at the Starkville Public Library, Mississippi State University welcome signs, Starkville High School and Starkville Academy, as well several other locations around town.
A grant of $1,582 was given to the Starkville School District Family Centered Programs to help fund their Summer Adventures Camp. Joan Butler, who accepted the grant, thanked SOAR for “investing in our future through our youth.”
The First Family Resoure Center was given $1,000 to help sponsor the “Health Marriage Picnic.” When accepting the grant, Larnzy Carpenter thanked SOAR for their continued support for the center and the community.
The Starkville/MSU Symphony was awarded a grant of $5,000, after SOAR offered to match their fundraising efforts dollar-for-dollar. The money will go towards the Children’s Symphony, a program that will be put on in October for 3,000 area children, featuring a full symphony and a performance on the history of dance.
The final grant of $10,000 was given to the Oktibbeha Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services, or OSERVS.
“Starkville is a very caring community,” said Becky Wilkes of OSERVS. “You will see this money going right back to those who need it.”
Since 2005, SOAR has awarded over $70,000 in grants ranging from $400-$10,000 to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Starkville Area Arts Council and the Okitbbeha County Red Cross, to name a few.