Hosts Great Day festival
As cars speed by on Broadway Street, Oviedo resident Courtney Wright carefully helps a woman carry a box of T-shirts across the busy road.
Wright is used to helping customers cross the street from HOPE Helps, a thrift store and food pantry for the needy or homeless. The next day, she’ll mark her fourth anniversary with the charity.
Though she has a passion for helping the homeless and less fortunate, 18-year-old Wright ultimately wants to help people in the operating room, to go to medical school and be a cardiovascular surgeon. Despite family financial struggles, Wright is now a freshman at Seminole State College, fulfilling a dream that not too long ago seemed out of reach.
Charities, schools and students looking for scholarships continue to find financial aid and hope thanks to funds raised from the Great Day in the Country Arts and Crafts Festival, an event put on by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) Oviedo Woman’s Club.
Saturday, Nov. 10, will mark the 39th annual installment of the festival, a gathering that offers Oviedo not only a free juried art show, but a fundraiser for the community.
Finishing up her last year at Oviedo High School, Wright applied for a scholarship from the GFWC Oviedo Woman’s Club in last February and was informed in April that she had won $3,000 toward her first year of college.
“I was very happy to get it. It’s been very helpful with the books and everything; I didn’t realize how expensive it would total out to be,” Wright said. “I was very happy to win.”
Great Day in the Country Chairwoman Angela Iversen said that it was Wright’s 700 hours of community service that earned her the scholarship. The award is an example of how the club has put an emphasis on funding education with money earned from the arts and crafts festival.
“We take it very seriously about handing out the money,” Iversen said. “We want to make sure that it’s effective in whatever it’s doing.”
Of the $38,000 that Great Day in the Country raised last year, $15,600 went to scholarships and $10,225 went to nine local schools in need.
One of these schools, Evans Elementary School, received $625 toward four new iPads for its Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classes and the school’s reading coach.
Additionally funded by Oviedo attorney Tim Moran, the iPads are used for communication and reinforcing handwriting and sentence structure skills.
ESE teacher Catherine Chellberg applied for the grant last year and was thrilled to have been chosen for the funding.
“I can’t thank them enough, because I would not have had the opportunity to have had an iPad in my classroom,” Chellberg said. “Because the world is technology today, our ESE students really need that exposure and to have that experience.”
Chellberg said the club’s outreach to the community does a lot of good.
“I have always heard about Great Day in the Country and knew that they did a fundraiser, but I was not aware until I actually applied for the grant of all the fabulous things they do and the many organizations that they help,” Chellberg said.
The Great Day in the Country Arts and Crafts festival taking place this November will be a stark contrast to the event’s first installment nearly 40 years ago. The festival originally had a dozen booths and raised $500, which was donated to the fire department to buy a new fire engine.
The festival now has about 400 booths, including vendors, sponsors and 350 juried artists and crafters, who will be competing for $4,000 in prize money.
This year’s festival will also introduce a brand new talent show called Great Day’s Got Talent, where six finalists will compete for a $500 grand prize and additional featured acts will perform.
With $4,290 going to charities such as Shepherd’s Hope, The Vine and HOPE Helps last year, Great Day in the Country continues to be source of culture and hope in the community, Iverson said.
“There are so many good things in Oviedo, but we feel like making both a contribution financially and through physical efforts and community service is going to make our community a better place to live,” Iversen said. “It’s going to improve the quality of life for those who live here because you’re only as strong as the weakest citizen in your area. We feel that we need to make everybody as strong as possible.”
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