A total of $6,000 was donated by members of the Olive Leaf Chapter #59 Masonic Lodge in Thomson to a local girl, boy and woman during a recent dinner banquet honoring the three recipients.
"We wanted to do something to show our concern for what these three people and their families are going through," said Jarvis McNair, who serves as deputy grand master of the local Masonic Lodge and is founder of the Sky Powell Foundation. "We hope the money they received will help a little. This is just our way of showing support for those who need it in our community."
Sky Powell, who resides in the Happy Valley area of McDuffie County, received a check in the amount of $3,000. Sky was diagnosed with cancerous tumors on the brain and near the spine of her back, said Mr. McNair. She continues to undergo medical treatments from time to time.
The other two recipients, 11-year-old Taylor Evans and Audra Collins, both of Thomson, received checks for $1,500 each.
Taylor suffers from autism, while Miss Collins is in need of a kidney transplant - her second one in several years.
"Doing something like this makes us all feel good, because we know these three recipients and their families can use this money in a meaningful way," said Mr. McNair. "When I learned of Sky's medical condition, I knew right then and there that we had to do something to help that family. And that's how the Sky Powell Foundation got started."
When Mr. McNair discussed his idea with fellow members of the local Masonic Lodge and telephoned other officials within the organization, "people just came forth from everywhere it seemed to support the idea. It's been great up to this point, but we want to do more - not just for these three recipients, but for others in our community who need financial medical support, too."
He has plans to see that the banquet continues to grow with each passing year.
"We want the community to know that we care about what's going on and that they can turn to us for help," said Mr. McNair, who owns and operates his own barbecue business. "This is what we're suppose to do - is to help one another. God wants us to help one another."
He readily admits that the foundation would never have gotten off the ground and become a reality had it not been for the support of so many people behind the scenes.
Some of those supporters include the Palmetto Grand Lodge of South Carolina, as well as Deputy Grand Master Larry Stevens and Grand Patron Edward Johnson of Cartersville, Ga.
"It is our hope and our dream that this benefit will strike a nerve in the minds of corporate America, local civic groups, local merchants, state and federal agencies so that a wider range of special assistance can be felt in not only community, but in other communities, too," said Mr. McNair.
For Ms. Collins, receiving the donation "was God sent," she said during a Monday interview.
"I now have raised a little over $24,000, and I'm just thankful to God and to this community for having helped me to accomplish what I set out to do several years ago. I am so thankful to the local Masonic Lodge for helping me. I thank God for them - each and every one of them," she said.
Ms. Collins is on the kidney transplant list at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta.
As for Taylor Evans' mother, Tammy, she couldn't have been more pleased to receive the $1,500 donation from the local Masonic Lodge either.
"I'm just so thankful to each of the people who had a part in making this donation on behalf of my son," said Ms. Evans.
Taylor is a rising fourth grader at R.L. Norris Elementary School in Thomson.