ROCK HILL — Cheer for Children has grown up.
The nonprofits annual holiday bash for underprivileged kids across York County has morphed into a family affair that founder Winslow Schock renamed Gratitude is the Attitude.
Two hundred performers and several hundred volunteers and participants will fill South Pointe High Schools gymnasium on Saturday for the three-hour celebration.
There are a few things Schock wants everyone to know:
Doors open at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Admission is open to anyone who has something to be grateful for. But there is a price a canned good or $1, the proceeds of which will go to local food pantries feeding the needy.
Its fun and family oriented, said Schock, a Rock Hill chiropractor. I just think its absolutely incredible that weve got over 200 performers coming out, donating their time.
Cheer for Children started 20 years ago when Schock, then a Rock Hill newcomer, was looking for ways to help the citys neediest children.
He started with a small group of volunteers and threw a holiday party where 50 kids each got a toy and warm clothes.
The event grew into a December staple that Schock and a platoon of volunteers continually refine.
While the groups signature event name changed to Gratitude is the Attitude and moved up a month earlier, Cheer for Childrens mission of aiding Rock Hills neediest kids remains unchanged.
And thanks to Rock Hill schools, Schock said, more of those children are benefiting.
A school district survey of teachers, nurses and guidance counselors asking about problems that keep students from learning found that more than 1,100 children, or one in 17, left school on Fridays and didnt eat another full meal until they returned on Mondays. In response, the school system launched Back the Pack, a program that gives backpacks full of food to about 700 of those students on Fridays.
I thought, If they dont have anything to eat, maybe they dont have anything to read, Schock said. And they probably dont have much to wear.
It just dramatically increased our effectiveness. Everything we give is targeted to that one group.
Cheer for Children volunteers work with the schools, dropping off donations monthly throughout the school year for principals and teachers to dole out.
They collect school supplies, books and warm clothes.
Its 10 months of sharing whatever weve been blessed with, Schock said.
This years work culminates on Saturday. In addition to taking in dancing, impersonations and a variety of performances, Gratitude attendees will have a chance to win one of 100 door prizes, which include basketballs and bicycles.
Several hundred high school students will be at the party to mentor younger children.
Want to go, or help?
Shawn Cetrone 803-329-4072