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Fundraiser set: Let the Lego battles begin
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Children who love Legos are invited to bring their buckets of building blocks and creativity to the first-ever Lego build-off April 30 at the Liberty County YMCA.
The event will be used as a primary fundraiser for First Steps, a volunteer-based program to educate new mothers at Liberty Regional Medical Center before they take home their new infants, Liberty County Health Department Administrator Deidre Howell said.
“We are modeling it after an event held at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville that is very well-attended and anticipated each year,” Howell said. “First Steps is now receiving no state funding and is supported totally by in-kind donations from Liberty Regional, the health department and Family Connections. First Steps gets some minimal financial support from the Bryan County Commissioners and from the Long County Commissioners, since the new moms from those counties receive First Steps visits as well. First Steps also gets a grant from United Way.”
The registration deadline for the event is Friday and costs $20 for participants and $5 for spectators. Each competitor will receive an event T-shirt and lunch. Teams must be named and may have two to four members. Projects will be placed into “a grade zone based on the grade of the oldest participant of the team and will be judged accordingly,” according to the event flier.
Participants will be judged in their respective grade groups: pre-K through first, second through third, fourth through sixth and seventh through ninth, First Steps Program Coordinator Kathryn Howison said.
“The winners will be judges’ favorites; I have just been telling the kids I talk to, ‘Be creative and have fun with it!’ There will be judges present, and each will have a vote for each of the age groups listed,” Howison said. “I am excited to be doing something new and to be able to involve the children. I love that this event will bring families out together and will give children an outlet for creative expression.”
Judges will include Marcus Sack from P.C. Simonton & Associates Inc., Dr. David Peer of Liberty Chiropractic and First Sgt. Denny Buck and Maj. Jennifer Etters of the 92nd Engineer Battalion.
Winners will receive donated prizes, which include tickets to Splash in the Boro Waterpark, Six Flags, Jacksonville Zoo and Fun Zone Sports & Amusement Park. Participants also will receive certificates of participation.
Participants must bring their own Lego blocks to build a structure from scratch during the competition. Blocks must be completely disassembled at the start of the tournament, and structures must be original — the use of “cheat sheets,” blueprints or building guides is prohibited.
“The number of Legos needed will vary for each participant based on what they are planning to build. The only requirements for the structures are that they be original,” Howison said. “We prefer that the participants not build something directly from a boxed set.”
First Steps provides new mothers with a packet of information on everything from a baby’s growth and development to information on community services like WIC and free car seats, Howell said. The program volunteers also give advice on the prevention of sleep-related deaths and discuss important parenting topics, such as breast-feeding and coping with crying.
“Because Liberty County has a tremendously high number of infant deaths — 11 sleep-related infant deaths in the past three years — it is vital that First Steps volunteers continue to provide these visits to new moms, reminding them to put their babies on their backs to sleep alone in their cribs with no crib clutter,” Howell
said. 
The event idea came about because the advisory board wanted to have a family-oriented fundraiser, Howison said.
“In the past, First Steps has hosted an annual spaghetti dinner and silent auction as a way to raise funds for the program. This year, the advisory board had the idea to do something fun to include the families and children in the area,” Howison said. “I am very pleased with the collaboration we have seen between the different agencies and businesses in the surrounding counties. I hope we have a great turnout, as it promises to be a blast.”
Refunds will be given for those who cancel by Friday, April 22. Refunds will not be given for cancellations or no-shows after Friday. Registration through the Hinesville Area Arts Council website is encouraged, but not required, to ensure there are enough T-shirts and food. Food vendors also will be present for bystanders.

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