During Thursday’s special meeting for the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee, members agreed to continue plans and discussions for a fundraising event to raise money and awareness for the Veterans Memorial Walk at Bryant Commons.
The event, which tentatively is planned for Nov. 16, would be an all-day celebration of America’s veterans, past and present, said member George Holtzman, who also is president of the Veterans Memorial Walk at Bryant Commons.
“As I understand it, our goals are to raise money for the memorial walk and create an annual event (at Bryant Commons) that recognizes all veterans while celebrating our current soldiers and their families,” member P.J. Schneider said. “We may not raise a whole lot of money, but we’ll raise awareness.”
Attending members agreed, although several expressed concerns about the magnitude of such an event, which, according to member Melinda Schneider, is not something HMAC normally would do.
“This is backward from what we do,” she said. “We usually give away food. We don’t sell it.”
Chairman David Anderson agreed but reiterated they needed to raise funds for the walk, which is estimated to cost nearly $1 million before it’s dedicated on Memorial Day 2015.
The committee during its April meeting decided not to provide a food court to support Fort Stewart’s Fourth of July celebrations, which have been canceled. Schneider said the installation will hold a Twilight Tattoo with a patriotic concert, followed by a fireworks display.
Anderson suggested that since HMAC’s food court has provided free food for more than 3,000 people at previous “Worth Fighting For” celebrations, it should not be so difficult to bring together a group of food vendors to sell food for a fundraiser.
Schneider said he is not concerned that they could get together a food court and acknowledged they probably could raise some money selling beverages.
He and member John Crowley said their major concern is the logistical part of coordinating an event that large at Bryant Commons. Holtzman said he’d talked with Leah Poole, CEO of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, Liberty County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Hinesville Area Arts Council, as well as Vicki Davis, executive director of the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority.
He said they would lend their expertise and support to HMAC if they proceeded with the event, but noted it occurs around the same time as other scheduled local events.
Crowley and member Larry Cutchens suggested they break down the logistical requirements and divide them among members. These include food vendors, a sound system and entertainment, traffic control and parking, portable toilets and trash cans. After looking at each part rather than the whole event, they concluded it likely was something HMAC could do. Key individuals agreed to gather more information and meet early for the June 24 meeting.
Other business discussed Thursday included plans for a hail and farewell for senior 3rd Infantry Division leaders. As soon as Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, 3rd ID commander, and most of his staff of senior officers and command sergeants major return from Afghanistan in early August, they will leave Fort Stewart for new assignments, Schneider said.
Although the exact date of that event is not yet known, a list of special guests was prepared and approved during the meeting, along with discussions about food and entertainment at the event.
Members preferred a sit-down meal to heavy hors d’oeuvres. The choice then was whether to have a Lowcountry boil or a barbecue.
Other logistical concerns discussed concerned using the large metal building at Bryant Commons and donation of tables, chairs, lighting and a public-address system.