Richmond County residents are urged to lend a hand at the fourth annual Jada’s Helping Hands fundraiser, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 29 in the fellowship hall of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. The program, first inspired by 9-year-old Jada Thomas of Rockingham, is aimed at helping families of children in the ICU Ward at Duke Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.
Paula Thomas said her daughter was born prematurely with a lack of oxygen to her brain, and was admitted to Duke Hospital for more than seven months. Since then, Jada has returned to the hospital several times due to physical and mental impairments.
“Back in 2009, she had gotten sick again,” Paula said. “She had to go back to Duke, and she stayed there for two weeks, which was her longest stay. So she stayed in ICU for a week and the doctors had given her a fifty fifty chance of living — she had gotten an infection that was growing through her body. After a week in ICU, she got transferred to the fourth floor. When we went there, the Lord put the spirit in me to have a fundraiser.”
Paula said she spoke to her husband and one of her friends about the idea, and began to set the program into motion.
With the help of family, friends and a small committee, Jada’s Helping Hands began its first year of raising money for other families.
“We have it at our church every year, and we just ask people to come out and donate,” Paula said. “When Jada was in the hospital, we were just really blessed by our family and friends who supported us, so the reason for this fundraiser is now to help purchase gas, phone cards or any kind of little expense you may need the money for.”
Although the fundraiser is held in honor of Jada, all proceeds go toward other families with children in the ICU Ward of the hospital. Paula said the event will have food, fun and drawings for various prizes.
“We also make a donation to the Ronald McDonald house because they were so good to us,” Paula added.
This year, the program committee will kick off the fundraiser with a special walk on Sept. 22.
The walk will begin at 9 a.m., and participants will walk from the Hamlet Public Library to the Hamlet Train Depot where more information will be provided about the fundraiser.
“We’re just doing something different this time,” Paula said. “We’re trying to help people be aware of how Jada’s Helping Hands got started, what our goal is, the purpose behind it, a little bit about Jada, and dealing with special needs children.”
“I have known the Thomas family for many years and they have always placed a high value on family,” said Marchell David, Hamlet City Manager. “Blessed with a special needs child, Paula and Tom will move heaven and earth to make sure that she is taken care of. Unselfishly, they work to ensure that families in similar situations are blessed with opportunities to help them through the roughest of times. Hence, Jada’s Helping Hands is an example of the compassion that this family has for other families. Through Jada’s outreach ministry, the love of God is passed along to many.”
Registration for the walk is free and participants are encouraged to meet at the library at 9 a.m. The annual fund raiser will be held the following Saturday at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located on Highway 74 East in Hamlet.
“We’re just trying to give back a little bit to the community and Duke, because they make it all possible,” Paula said. “When you go out and help someone, it just does your heart good. We have helped so many people that have different fundraisers around here in Richmond County, because really, these people are the ones that make it possible — they come out and give, and in times like this with the economy being really really bad, people still find it in their hearts to come out for a good cause.”
For more information about the fund raiser or the walk, contact Paula Thomas at 910-582-8459.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.