Like many other events, the 2020 Anti-Bullying & First Responders Day will be postponed due to the concerns about COVID-19. Instead of taking place Aug. 1, the event is now set for Nov. 14.
The focus of the event remains on anti-bullying efforts, but with a twist aimed at the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, said organizer Jeff Klare. “COVID-19 is the biggest bully we are facing right now.”
The anti-bullying campaign walks hand in hand with acknowledging the unique impact the pandemic can have on children of first responders, such as doctors and nurses, firefighters, police and EMTs, he said. Children of parents who fight on the front line against the virus “watch the news, hear about” the dangers of the disease and worry about their parents’ safety, he said. “They don’t know what is going on, and they are scared.”
The 2020 Anti-Bullying & First Responders Day, which, like the 2019 event, will be held at Mill Creek Regional Park, will offer children “the chance to just be kids” and have fun after the long weeks of quarantine and restrictions due to COVID-19. It also will recognize first responders, as well as raise money for Pineland Mental Health and the Georgia Police K9 Foundation, which is based in Statesboro. Pineland director June DiPolito has partnered with Klare and “would like to see an anti-bullying program placed in schools,” he said.
The police dogs and their handlers, representatives with You-Nique Mentoring by Joyce Simmons; the Statesboro High School Anti-Bullying Club and Statesboro Community Youth Network as well as various speakers and exhibits with anti-bullying messages and first-responders will be in attendance.
The bounce houses won’t be back this year due to virus concerns, but games and activities that allow social distancing, such as “egg runs, obstacle courses and watermelon pushes” will keep the kids entertained, he said.
“The community needs something positive to look forward to. Kids need to feel like kids again and we will do whatever it takes to make sure the event is fun and safe for everyone.”
Wal-Mart Distribution, like last year, has donated “a lot of items for a raffle that will make a lot of people very happy,” Klare said.
The fundraiser will generate money for Pineland Mental Health programs, as well as the Georgia Police K9 Foundation.
There will be food, information and other vendors at the event, offering cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones along with other treats, he said.
The inaugural event held last year was a success, and was supported and endorsed by the Bulloch County Commission and Commission Chairman Roy Thompson as well as the Statesboro City Council and Mayor Jonathan McCollar.
The event at Mill Creek Park will be Saturday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free to the public. For more information, call (912) 243-9200.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.