ELIZABETHTOWN — The front lawn of the Bladen County Courthouse was dotted with color on Saturday afternoon, as numerous canopies and a couple of bounce houses were set up as part of the fifth annual Child Abuse Awareness Day.
The lawn was also packed with people — hundreds turned out for what organizers are calling “the biggest one yet.”
“This is really a huge turnout,” said Vicki Smith, director of Bladen County Department of Social Services. “We had a lot of donations for this, and we’re just so thankful.”
One of the highlights of the event was the annual “Walk to Protect Children” from San Jose Restaurant to the courthouse. And this year’s walk attracted about 200 walkers.
“That’s awesome,” said Jill Sampson, a Child Protective Services supervisor. ” When we first started this, we had about 20 walkers, so this has really grown.
“I’d definitely say today is the biggest event yet,” Sampson added. “There’s been so much support from the community, businesses and churches.”
Even Mother Nature supported the event, as participants and visitors enjoyed a warm, sunny day.
The booths that circled the courthouse lawn were manned by folks from Eastpointe, Danaher, Second Chance Church, Families First, Tarheel Challenge Academy and DSS. They offered childrens’ games, pinwheel making, crafts, face painting and more.
The day’s events included the announcement of the annual poster and poetry contests. The first-place winner of the poster contest was Caroline Smith, 13, a seventh-grader at Clarkton School of Discovery. She was awarded a $100 gift card from Walmart and her design was used on the back of this year’s T-shirt. The winner of the poetry contest was Valli Dixon, 12, who attends Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy. She was awarded a $100 gift card from Walmart.
Also during the day, there were numerous performances by the Carolina Glitterettes from Robeson County, as well as the singing of Alyssa Bell, 11, from the Clarkton School of Discovery.