SUMMERTON - A couple's desire to offer the youth of Summerton something to do and somewhere to go after school and on weekends is almost a reality.
David and Tanika Blanding, natives of Summerton, formed the Creating Memories Life Changing Corp., a 501(c)3 foundation, to give youth an alternative to life on the streets without any hope of a successful future.
"Even though I moved away, I saw a need here," David Blanding said Saturday at an End of Summer Community Block Party at Wausaw Park sponsored by the foundation that he and his wife formed. "I saw rioting in Baltimore. I saw where it stemmed from, and I've seen what causes youth and the community to lash out. I don't want that to happen here. This is where we're headed if we don't do something now."
Blanding said the foundation hosts programs on a variety of issues, including suicide awareness, anti-bullying, violence and domestic violence.
"The foundation provides services promoting education," he added. "Poor judgment is a result of not having programs to come to after school where they can deal with issues and receive counseling if needed."
Only with a committed community that is willing to come together for the need of its youth can change be brought about, Blanding stressed.
"The community needs to come together as a whole," he added. "That is what this event is all about."
The block party offered the community and its youth an afternoon of fun and games. Representatives with Morris College, Claflin University, the Army, Kittie's Bounce Houses and Clarendon County Fire Department were on hand to talk with the attendees. Free haircuts for the boys were offered, and 175 backpacks were given to children at the event.
"We want to help further education, specifically the youth," Tanika Blanding said.
The Blandings said they are working on establishing a recreation center in the west Summerton area where youth can come after school for tutoring, games, performing arts and counseling. The youth can also learn how to fill out job applications and then actually use on-site computers to submit job applications.
"There is a different way," David Blanding said. "By working together, inside and outside the community, we can give the youth a chance. We need to reach them early like in middle school. They need to know there is a better way of life."
The Blandings said that donations toward the recreation center are welcome. Because it is a recognized 501(c)3 corporation, David Blanding said the corporation will be able to provide donors with a letter documenting their donations.
The Blandings are looking for donations including books, computers, furniture, movies, TV, video games and of course monetary donations so they can buy needed items. Volunteers are also welcome.
"We want this center to be the heart of the community," he said.
For more information on how you can help, call the Blandings at (803) 566-4296.