By ADAM ARMOUR
Habitat for Humanity’s annual fundraisers are an important part of the homebuilding process — as important as pouring the foundation, shingling the roof, laying the tile or painting the walls. It’s also a part of the process in which everyone can be involved, regardless of homebuilding skill.
This year, Itawamba County Habitat for Humanity will host a beauty pageant to raise money for its sixth house, set to be built on Rose Street in Fulton. Titled the Miss Habitat Beauty Pageant, the contest will take place on April 5 at the W.O. Benjamin Fine Arts Auditorium on the ICC Fulton campus. Registration will open at 10 a.m. with the pageant beginning at 11 a.m. Registration fees are $35 at the door, and an additional $10 for photogenic entry. Early registration will cost slightly less — $30. There will be a $5 admission for those wanting to simply sit and enjoy the pageant. These fees will be tax deductible, as they count as charitable donations.
All proceeds from the event will be used by Itawamba County Habitat for Humanity in building its sixth home.
The contest is open to a broad range of people. Entrants will compete in a total of 12 different age categories and are open to girls aged infant to 21 and boys aged infant to 4 years. The attire will be formal pageant wear. A photographer will be on hand to photograph each contestant as he or she takes the stage.
Winners in each division will be awarded crowns and trophies, while the overall winner will be named Miss Habitat. This will be more than just a title, as Miss Habitat will have the option of performing some duties for the group, such as cutting the ribbon at the dedication of the group’s next home.
**Preparing the pageant**
“Right now we’re pretty much just trying to get our trophies and prizes lined up, our judges prepared and getting the word out. We’re getting all of our ‘i’s’ dotted and ‘t’s’ crossed,” said Shanda Lindley, Habitat for Humanity member and coordinator of the Miss Habitat pageant. Work on the pageant has been moving along steadily. This is the first such event for the local organization. Last year, Itawamba County Habitat for Humanity held a fish fry and silent auction as its fundraiser, but when time rolled around for another, the group felt it should do a little something different.
Although the first such event for the group, Lindley herself is no stranger to fundraising pageants, having coordinated a similar program for Project Hope in Tupelo. So far so good for this fundraiser, as she’s managed to get much of the necessary materials and supplies donated.
“So far, there has been very little overhead cost,” Lindley said, adding that even items such as trophies were donated by area vendors. This is good, of course, since less money spent on the pageant means more money spent on the house.
As far as pageant turnout is concerned, Lindley’s remaining hopeful, expecting to see strong support for Habitat’s cause.
“We’ll take as many contestants as we can get,” Lindley said with a laugh. “I want to stress that this contest is open to anyone from any county, but the money we raise will stay here in Itawamba County, helping Itawamba County families … Remember, this is for charity, and it’s all in good fun.”
She added, “If it’s a cause they believe in, then people are going to come out and spend their money to support it …You’d be very surprised at how many people are willing to donate time, money, materials and facilities. You just have to ask.”
Lindley confessed that she’s received a little burst of pride from working within her own county. “This is just what I believe in,” she said, asserting that most people would probably feel the same way.
“People just have a heart for their county,” she said. “They are just more willing to donate to the place where they live and work and where their tax money goes … That’s what I’ve come to see: If they live here, they want to give here.”
Registration forms for the pageant can be picked up at the ICDC on Wiygul Street in Fulton, Bob Steele’s Flower Shop and at any county school. For more information, call Lindley at 862-9749 or Angela Gough at 862-9708.