The snow-cones were drippin' in the late afternoon heat and the scent of charcoal barbeque drifted over the kids running to play games, their parents trying to keep up. Rolla Fire and Rescue held a carnival last Friday evening and Saturday morning at the Big Lots parking lot to raise money for the Phelps County Children’s Advocacy Network (PCCAN).

The snow-cones were drippin' in the late afternoon heat and the scent of charcoal barbeque drifted over the kids running to play games, their parents trying to keep up. Rolla Fire and Rescue held a carnival last Friday evening and Saturday morning at the Big Lots parking lot to raise money for the Phelps County Children’s Advocacy Network (PCCAN). This was a part of an overall fundraising event this weekend called Take-A-Stand, that is sponsored by Phelps County Bank.

Rolla Fire and Rescue is a member of PCCAN says Lynette Manley, an administrative assistant with the fire department and the coordinator of the carnival, because of the department’s successful car seat program.

They sing for their supper, so to speak, by putting on the carnival because they request funds from PCCAN to provide free car seats for low income families. They also install them and have free installation for all Phelps County families. According to Lynette, they receive minimal car seats from Missouri Department of Transportation, but the demand in our area is greater than the supply. By being a grantee of the PCCAN program they can fill the gap to provide safety for more kids.

She says they have provided over 100 car seats in the last year to low income families. To receive a car seat, the family has to go through a referral program through local agencies such as the Greater Rolla Area Charitable Enterprise (GRACE).

Lynette adds there are many changes with the design of car seats that it makes sense to make sure they are installed properly.

“Every one of our firefighters are certified child safety seat technicians,” said Lynette. “We’ve done several car seat checks today, out in the parking lot.”
“We have a lot of drop-ins (at the fire stations) that want us to put a seat in,” she said, before hustling over to a booth to offer help.

In the meantime, kids were sucking on slushy rainbow snow-cones, fishing for plastic fishes in a pool, putting golf balls and taking rides up to dizzying heights in the fire truck’s bucket. There were hot dogs to be eaten and neighbors to greet—“all for the children,” said Rolla Fire and Rescue Chief Ron Smith.

MOCA snow-cones for the cause
Child abuse occurs from a complicated matrix of causes and the psychological damage can be hard to reverse, so it takes an “all hands on deck” approach. Beth Dye is with Mo. Ozark Community Action Agency (MOCA) Head Start program based in Richland. They have 14 centers and currently serve 543 children in eight counties, with one of those here in Rolla where 88 children are currently enrolled. Changes are on the way according to Beth.

“The program will now include mothers that are pregnant, up to children five years-old that are ready to start school,” said Beth. “It gets them a stable start with an education.”

Beth was running a snow-cone booth at the carnival with two VISTA program volunteers.

“We just want to give back to the community as much as we can and let them know that children and education come first,” she added.
Unfortunately, the need for Beth’s agency is great, though it’s fortunate they can provide for children’s development when their parents can’t.
“We are seeing more and more children that are coming from homes where mom and dad made some poor choices and need some support,” she explained. “We’re seeing grandparents and great-grandparents raising babies to three year-olds.”

She says the Head Start program brings the families together through a 360 degree approach. Not only do the children come to the program, they give the families support and set goals for them to accomplish.
“If their goal is to maintain an education to get a better job, then that’s what we’ll focus on,” she noted. “We give them opportunities to speak for their children and try to break that cycle of abuse, or most of all, poverty. Our children are living in more and more poverty every day.”

Beth really appreciates what Phelps County Bank and Rolla Fire and Rescue is doing to help the Take-A-Stand effort. She says many kids have never even seen a firetruck, or worse—referring to uniformed responders in general, she noted “Our children are scared of the police,” she said. “They think they are bad people and that they’re going to take their parents away. It’s been a cycle and we’ve got to stop that. We need to teach our children that the community is a safe place.”

She encourages any uniformed responder to come and read to the Head Start children to show them a uniform doesn’t mean there isn’t kindness and understanding behind the badge.

About this year’s T-shirt design
This year’s Take-A-Stand T-shirt was designed by 10 year-old Sailor, who was busy painting faces at the carnival. Sailor is the daughter of Dr. Josh and Lyndsey Garrison, and she claims she gets her artistic talent from her dad. The challenge to design a T-shirt for the event was offered through her school art class with the final judging done by a committee at Phelps County Bank.
The design features a foreground focus of five children from different nationalities huddled up in a circle.

Like any good designer, she wanted to say a lot with a simple design that would have some impact. She was after a “we’re all in this together” feel, because the theme’s assignment was “A World of Healthy Kids.”
“I wanted them to be in a circle so it looked like they were all friends together,” said Sailor.

The shirts Sailor drew on the kids depicted messages with meaning and this required a little research. For instance, “on the Chinese boy’s shirt, it says, ‘Have Fun,’“she explained. It was drawn in Chinese script to lend some authenticity to the design. The original entry was a mixed media piece as well.

“On the background, I used crayons,” she said. On the kids, she used Copic markers which are known for their rich colors and blending abilities without creating harsh marker edges.
There is a lot of blue in the design, so RDN asked Sailor about her favorite color crayon.

Without hesitation, she stated, “Turquoise.”

She’s entering the 5th grade this fall and says this competition has inspired her to want to design more in the future. But this creative is already looking past the 5th grade towards a career in film directing. She takes videos on her cell phone and edits in Apple iMovie software. One of her favorite movies is “A Dog’s Purpose,” directed by Lasse Hallstrom. It’s a story told from a dog’s perspective.

Sailor may be a young Kathryn Bigelow in the making, but for now, she’s making a difference by bringing an awareness to child abuse prevention. That’s a noble start to the creative life for someone of any age.