TUPELO • During the third annual Night for a Hand Up Tuesday at the BancorpSouth Conference Center, the Tupelo/Lee County Community Foundation welcomed several local nonprofit organizations to present their work and compete for four grant awards.
Pat Caldwell, Tupelo/Lee County Community Foundation vice chairman, said the foundation was created as an affiliate of the CREATE Foundation in 2015 with the mission to bring philanthropy to Tupelo/Lee County.
“This very event showcases some 25 charities and various nonprofits that do just that; they give back to Tupelo and Lee County, and we want to support them,” Caldwell said.
The fund for the event comes from the John and Frances Marchbanks Endowment Fund, which is a grant fund for Tupelo or Lee County organizations.
“The nonprofits you see tonight definitely meet the mission of the Marchbanks family, and we’re excited to continue their legacy through their fund,” Caldwell said at the event.
Any organization was encouraged to apply, and this year 25 organizations applied and set up display tables at the center to compete for either a first place price of $10,000, a second place prize of $5,000 and a third place prize of $2,500. A fourth award of “Crowd Favorite,” voted on by ticket holders, also received a $2,500 grant. All nonprofits receive $250 for participating. Participating nonprofits gave two-minute presentations for their project proposals.
Grants Committee Chair David Rumbarger said the event provides donors with a chance to see a lot of charities at one time and be able to put a name and face to a charity.
“They get a chance to hear some of the genuine concern for the community from the heart when they make these talks, so it humanizes some of this (charity work),” Rumbarger said.
This year’s crowd favorite was Andy Hewitt Helping Hands Foundation, which was founded by Tom Hewitt after he lost his son to cancer. The organization helps people in Northeast Mississippi who cannot afford cancer medication.
Third place was Early Childhood Coalition, which sponsors 1,200 children each month with a free book through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. Volunteer Gerald Wages said the program helps children become accustomed to reading before they reach kindergarten, and he said it was important to see so many organizations presenting at the event.
“There’s so many organizations that are doing a great job in our community and have a real impact in our community, and we should just be proud to be in Tupelo,” Wages said.
Founder Tyson Quinn of Real Men Stand Up, the winner of second place, said he was surprised to win but saw it as a blessing to know he could do so much more for the kids he works with. He focused his presentation on the importance of the need for male role models and how his organization was expanding to include an after school program. He emphasized a need for volunteers.
“We’ll be able to get them more merchandise and take them more places. These are trips that we will be able to take our boys on now with this money that we received,” Quinn said.
First place was Kids Across America, which is a faith-based camp that takes kids to a camp in Missouri with the goal of leaving a positive impact on urban youth. Tracie Lanphere serves as a KAA sponsor and said this will be the second summer they go to the camp. Lanphere was inspired in part by a former student, Marcus McCoy, who also assists with the camp effort alongside Tupelo Police Officer Tremaine Frison and Juanita Floyd of CREATE. McCoy said camp helps start something positive in children’s lives.
“Winning this tonight allows us to stay involved in these young men’s lives throughout the year until we return to camp,” Lanphere said.
Frison gave the organization’s two-minute presentation and said he was humbled when they won.
“I give praises to God for putting me in this position that I can be surrounded by some create people and great organizations that focus on investing in our youth,” Frison said.