Free groceries and shoes were given away to students and faculty of the Niangua R-V School District Tuesday, Dec. 12, as part of an $18,000 grant that was awarded to the Niangua TLC organization by the Musgrave Foundation.
A ceremony was held in the Niangua High School gym, where members from the Musgrave Foundation were on hand to present the items to the school district. The event featured live music, a sing-along with Santa Claus and a performance of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” by a troupe with Springfield Little Theatre.
“Carol Wooten had invited us to perform at Bradleyville School for the Celebration of Sharing, which is sponsored by the Slusher Foundation,” said Lorianne Dunn, education director/instructor of the Springfield Little Theatre. “After we performed there, they asked us if we would be willing to come to Niangua and perform our skit, so that is how we found out about the event.”
The Musgrave Foundation, according to www.musgravefoundation.org, benefits children and senior services, healthcare and education, poverty, hunger, homelessness, as well as art and community betterment. They also provide scholarships for higher education, especially within the nursing field. Jerry Redfern took over as manager of the Musgrave Foundation in 2003.
“We thought it was a wonderful idea to do this for the school district,” said Redfern. “I will tell you what makes it all worth it. Chris Lyons with Southwest Audio and Visual came to Niangua the day before and started setting up. A little girl came up to him and asked him what the bags of shoes were for. He told her that she was going to get a pair of brand new shoes tomorrow. The little girl just looked at him and then started crying. Her shoes, by the way, were wrapped with tape all the way around to hold them on. After she stopped, she looked at him and said, ‘I have not had shoes in two years.’”
Jeanette Alcorn, who has worked for Redfern for 29 years, approached him about giving the shoes away, after her son, Nicholas Inman, brought it to her attention that students were coming to school in flip flops. According to Alcorn, they contacted Tim Slavens, store manager of Walmart in Marshfield, to see if he would be interested in getting involved. Her husband, Butch, also helped out by playing Santa Claus during the event.
“We wanted to give the kids a nice Christmas and provide them with shoes to wear for the cold weather,” said Alcorn. “We also understood that the Niangua Schools were not going to have a Christmas program this year, so we wanted to bring a little bit of a Christmas program to them. That is why we asked the Springfield Little Theatre to come.”