On Tuesday, February 19, the GFWC Brandon Service League (BSL) held its 28th Annual Alice Storms Very Special Arts Festival at First Baptist Church of Brandon. This event gives special needs children, from elementary schools in Hillsborough County, an opportunity to go on a fun field day filled with arts and crafts and entertainment. The Very Special Arts event is just one of many service projects that BSL members undertake each year.
This year, over 200 students attended the event. The children were assisted by BSL members and 60 student volunteers from Durant High School, Brandon High School ROTC, Riverview High School and, new this year, Brandon Academy. The children engaged in multiple craft stations including finger puppets, face painting and hat making.
Bradlee Swanson, Chair of this year’s event, said, “We lost Alice Storms, for whom the event is named, last December. We will continue to honor her legacy and memory with this great event.”
Dominick Giombetti, Head of the Upper Division at Brandon Academy, said, “We are excited to be a part of this great event. It has been a lot of fun, and we look forward to continuing to volunteer at the event next year.”
Tonya Green, a Pre-K teacher with Riverview Elementary, said, “I think that it is great that they cater to special needs students. I have a blended class, and all of my students have a great time at this event.”
Allee Noriega, a senior at Durant High School and a member of SAC (Students All Connected), said, “This is my first time at this event. I like being involved with playing with the children and seeing all of their smiles.”
Emily Galletti, also a senior at Durant High School, echoed this statement and said, “I enjoy making a difference and making a little kid feel special.”
BSL has been serving the greater Brandon area for over 50 years. In addition to this event, BSL offers scholarships to high school students who wish to pursue an education in either the arts or education. They also offer a Renaissance Woman Scholarship to a woman who is going back to school or furthering her education. The scholarship application is available online and will be awarded in May.
For more information, please visit www.gfwcbrandonserviceleague.org.