By Kathy Collins

Last month, the GFWC Brandon Service League (BSL) held its 25th Annual Alice Storms Very Special Arts Festival at First Baptist Church of Brandon. This event gives pre-school aged, special needs children, from select schools in Eastern Hillsborough County, an opportunity to go on a fun field day filled with arts and crafts and entertainment.

This year 100 students from Valrico, Kingswood, Yates, Schmidt, Riverview, Colson, Cimino and Lopez Elementary Schools attended the event. The children were helped by 25 volunteers from BSL members and 27 high school students from Durant High School and Brandon High School ROTC.

Very Special Arts Chair Diane Burnett said, “This event is very close to each BSL member’s heart. This is the only field trip these children get every year. Unfortunately, due to the fact that teachers could not get more chaperones, our attendance was down this year, but a great time was had by all attending.”

President of BSL Sandy Pullinger said, “Alice Storms (a founding member of BSL who turned 91 this year) started this event in Brandon 25 years ago. She has a heart for children and adults with disabilities and wanted to do something special for these little ones. Once we began doing it, we could not stop. Just to see the joy on their little faces, as they get to have a special time made just for them, makes it all worthwhile.”

This event would not be possible without contributions from organizations within the community including First Baptist Church of Brandon who provided the venue, McDonald’s Corporation who provided the food for the children, Chick-fil-A at Lake Brandon Village who provided food for the volunteers and sent the beloved Cow to entertain the children, and Publix who provided gift cards.

The GFWC Brandon Service League has been serving the greater Brandon area for over 50 years. To learn more, visit

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