LAGRANGE, Ga. – It’s a way to shop for a great cause.
The United Way of West Georgia is holding it’s fifth annual Merry Market of LaGrange Thursday through Saturday.
It will raise money for the area’s early learning programs.
In just four years, this Merry Market event has raised $70,000 for early learning programs like Success by Six, Troup BELL, and the Maidee Smith Daycare – a 65 year tradition created after a horrible tragedy.
The Maidee Smith Early Care Learning Center helps dozens of families who may not have an affordable daycare option.
It was created by Maidee Smith back in 1950 after a woman caring for another woman’s children, as her job, left her children alone and they died in a fire.
The tragedy inspired the opening of Maidee Smith, the first African-American daycare center in LaGrange.
“It’s very important because mothers were working and they needed a place somewhere safe to leave their children,” said Maidee Smith Director Maxine Maddox.
Maidee Smith continues to provide a safe and educational place to leave children thanks in part to the United Way of West Georgia.
Half of is funding comes from the United Way. This quality-rated day care is among several programs receiving money from the United Way’s Merry Market event including Success by Six, First Steps at West Georgia Health, and Troup BELL.
“We saw that there was a real gap when children start school and we needed to do something nobody else was doing,” said United Way of West Georgia Executive Director Patty Youngblood.
Vendors at Merry Market are setting up for the three day shopping event offering a variety of items. To attend, you pay $5 and shop while enjoying local entertainment.
It all goes to early learning in Troup County.
“It’s an opportunity to come view vendors for a short period of time you would not see otherwise,” says Merry Market of LaGrange Executive Director Stephanie Preston.
Because events like Merry Market, early learning programs like Maidee Smith can continue to serve our community.
According to Youngblood, Headstart programs help a lot but additional early learning programs are needed to fill the gap. In Troup County, only 8% of the children are test ready for learning in Kindergarten.
Merry Market helps to raise money for these additional programs.
For more information on Merry Market of LaGrange go to http://www.merrymarketlagrange.com.