United Way’s Inaugural Cardboard Boat Race launches Aug. 28
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2021 5:43 pm
BY MARIE NESMITH
Set for Aug. 28, United Way of Bartow County’s inaugural Cardboard Boat Race will bolster awareness and funds for Love Travels Beyond Inc. and The Bookmobile.
The benefit also will launch the United Way’s campaign titled “Unity in Community,” which will strive to secure at least $530,000 for its partner agencies. Ongoing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Cardboard Boat Race will be presented at Pine Acres Retreat, 3963 Bartow Carver Road in Acworth.
“United Way of Bartow County knows how much this past year has affected early childhood education and how important racial equity is for our community,” said Brenda Morehouse, president of the local United Way. “For this event, we really wanted to concentrate on these two areas so we picked Love Travels Inc. and The Bookmobile to split the proceeds with.
“These organizations have been critical to our community in healing from lack of education because of so much homeschooling during COVID and the divisiveness that came along with events over the past year. They are both promising agencies with the potential to succeed in doing great things for Bartow County, which is why we picked them to receive proceeds from our event.”
With summer underway, the United Way is recruiting teams, vendors and sponsors for the upcoming benefit.
“The Cardboard Boat Race in itself will be just like it sounds — lake-worthy crafts designed out of cardboard will race across the cove in hopes to win the TIKI trophy,” Morehouse said. “Some crafts may sink, some crafts may cross but all will have a great time. We will also have a festival-like atmosphere with some fantastic vendors, food trucks, music, a kids area with jumping castles and an adult area with adult beverages.
“Each team that enters a boat will also work to raise money by getting their friends, family and co-workers to help sponsor their boat. The team with the most donations will win a prize.”
Along with serving as a “great” fundraising opportunity, Morehouse noted the event is a “teambuilding exercise.”
“United Way of Bartow County is hoping to get as many teams building cardboard boats as possible,” she said. “We have several different sponsor levels but if you just want to enter a cardboard boat it’s only $500 to enter and you receive five 4-foot-by-8-foot pieces of cardboard when you sign up.
“There are so many great ways to build a cardboard boat and we have seen some really clever designs. We have seen people make boats look like sharks, fire engines, pirate ships and decorated rafts with flags. You can really get creative.”
Further details about participating in or supporting the Cardboard Boat Race can be obtained online at www.bartowliveunited.org/events/.
Those wanting to enter a boat in the event need to register by Aug. 15 and vendors must complete an application by Aug. 16. For $100, a vendor will receive a 10-foot-by-10-foot space. Sponsorship levels range from $500 to $10,000.
“We were excited to find out Love Travels would be among the beneficiaries of the Cardboard Boat Race,” said Scottlin Smith, founder of Love Travels Beyond. “We work really hard and absolutely love what we do for our community.
“We for sure count our blessings when we have anyone help us tell more people about our mission to spread love. Our mission was able to get a lot of people through the tough times 2020 brought. The love and the unity that we promote is what a lot of people needed.”
A resident of Cartersville, Smith formed Love Travels Beyond in 2017 when she was a student at the University of West Georgia. “Love Travels Beyond Inc.’s mission is to spread love in as many places as possible through service, while developing professionally to better serve our community,” Smith said. “Our motto is ‘through love, we shall conquer all.’ We believe in being the change we wish to see in the world.
“We believe in spreading love to others no matter their race, socioeconomic background or any other differences we may have. We believe in coming together and uniting people through love, unity and positivity. Some services that we provide the community with are toy drives, prom dress giveaways, our service summer camp, charity basketball tournament, scholarship giveaways and so much more.”
Like Smith, Valerie Gilreath —president of The Bookmobile’s board of directors — is excited for her nonprofit to be one of the Cardboard Boat Race’s beneficiaries.
“I was thrilled when I learned United Way would dedicate half of the event’s funds to The Bookmobile,” she said. “United Way is universally recognized in the community, and I think this event will expose us to a larger segment of the population who may not be aware of our services.
“The funds raised through the Cardboard Boat Race event will allow us to expand our after school and childcare center offerings. United Way both nationally and locally recognizes the importance of early childhood education and is committed to supporting programs that foster early literacy. We are very excited.”
Established four years ago, The Bookmobile initially focused its efforts in south Bartow and later expanded its reach. Last year, the organization gave away 7,613 books. In 2019, 152 new Bookmobile library cards were issued, 700 books were checked out and 3,610 books were distributed to families.
“The Bookmobile launched in summer 2017 with the mission to increase literacy by increasing access to books, Gilreath said. “Our purpose is to expose children to books as early as possible and get families reading together early and often to build the language and literacy skills that are essential to school readiness and success.
“We want mothers and fathers reading to their babies from day one, and we make sure they have the books to do so. We serve children 0 to 18 and strive to foster a love of reading.”
In addition to operating a mobile library, The Bookmobile’s volunteers install Little Libraries and give away summer book bundles to reinforce reading over summer break.
“We offer workshops to teach parents how to create language- and literacy-rich environments at home, and, just this year, we launched a Childcare Center Outreach aimed at teaching childcare center staff strategies to maximize language- and literacy-learning in their classrooms,” Gilreath said. “In the fall, we plan to expand our after school offerings, which will hopefully include a book club at one of the south Bartow elementary schools.”