By Melonie Flomer
Toys for Tots is getting a head start on this year’s donation drive by teaming up with Rockingham’s popular Thursday Plaza Jam concert series.
The 11th annual Thursday Plaza Jam kicks off its 2014 season on May 1 at Cole Plaza beside Rockingham City Hall with the return of The Tams. The free community concert series takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month from May through October. The concerts feature live beach music from the region’s most popular bands.
This year, the Marine Corps League will have a tent on site and Toys for Tots boxes for the collection of new, unwrapped gifts. Toys for Tots is a nonprofit organization designed to provide Christmas gifts for poor children in Richmond County who might not otherwise receive any presents during the holiday season.
Thursday Plaza Jam has enjoyed years of success, which Williams attributes to the popularity of beach music in the community and free family entertainment in a great atmosphere. Last year, despite rainy spring and summer weather, the concerts drew crowds of 700 to 800 people each time.
Benny Leviner, Richmond County Toys for Tots coordinator, hopes the pre-season partnership will benefit the organization.
“We don’t do a lot of off season type stuff like this,” Leviner said. “We kick off the season Nov. 1. It takes about six months of the year to take care of this.”
Bill Rohleder, assistant coordinator, knows a great opportunity when he sees one.
“It will give exposure to the program 6 months early,” he said. “Each year our campaign gets bigger and bigger, and unfortunately the clientele grows. With that, if you want to be successful, you have to have more toys, more money. We want people to be aware of Toys for Tots not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. It’s a truly wonderful thing.”
Rohleder hopes that everyone who attends the concerts will be generous with their donations.
That’s not the only change concert-goers will see this season. Kim Williams, events coordinator for the city of Rockingham, is excited to welcome Perdue Farms as a new corporate sponsor this year.
“It’s a great opportunity for Perdue to be more involved in the community, and is a perfect fit,” Williams said. “We’re excited to have them on board.”
Perdue joins returning sponsors Dieffenbach GM Superstore, BB&T, First Carolina Care Insurance Company, the city of Rockingham and the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority.
2014 Thursday Plaza Jam Schedule
May 1 — The Tams
June 5 — Jim Quick & Coastline
July 3 — The Sand Band
August 7 — Too Much Sylvia
September 4 — Fantastic Shakers
October 2 — Craig Woolard Band