Katrina’s Kids hosts Cola benefit concert for foster kids

Hear four live acts, bid on Darius Rucker's guitar, and more at special concert to help kids in need

Music and children are a natural fit. But for many foster children in South Carolina, activities like music lessons or band camp are simply out of reach.

So are summer camps, athletic and recreation programs, scouting, leadership development, job skills training – and a whole host of other after-school and summer enrichment activities.

S.C. Sen. Katrina Shealy, founder of Katrina’s Kids, which serves the needs of foster-children locally and throughout the state. (Photo provided)

Katrina’s Kids, a Midlands nonprofit started by Lexington state Sen. Katrina Shealy, is changing that tune.

On Jan. 11, 2017, Katrina’s Kids is inviting the community to add its voice to the chorus by supporting the organization’s first benefit concert.

The inaugural event will feature four S.C.-based musical acts: headliners The BluePickups; opening act Saluda Shoals; and, special appearances by James Smith and the Hobart Trotter Project.

The event takes place at the Music Farm, located at 1022 Senate St. in Columbia. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and tickets may be purchased online through EventBrite.com. Advance tickets are $20 (plus online processing fee). Tickets purchased at the door are $25.

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The event will also feature a silent auction that will include a guitar autographed by Darius Rucker, several vacation home rental packages, spa and personal services gift certificates, and more.

The organization’s mission is to provide resources for foster children and children living in group homes to have the opportunity to take part in activities that build confidence, strengthen character, and teach valuable social and communication skills.

Shealy founded the organization in late 2014 after seeing first-hand the gaps in the system that is supposed to care for children in foster-care in the state. One of those gaps is adequate funding for children to take part in the kinds of activities that children outside of the system thrive upon.

“No matter how strong a foster family or group home may be, being in foster care puts a child at a disadvantage,” Shealy said. “Foster kids are more likely to have lower grades in school and more behavioral issues. They are less likely to graduate or go on to college. They struggle to develop interpersonal skills and their own self-worth.”

Shealy said research has shown that extra-curricular or after-school activities have positive effects on school attendance, motivation, academic achievement, and the behavior of kids in foster care. Unfortunately, she added, foster kids are often left out of these valuable activities.

“Budgets are usually tight for foster families or group homes,” Shealy explained. “The costs for registration fees or dues, uniforms, athletic equipment or musical instruments quickly add up. Access to reliable transportation may be limited, because these activities take place outside of the normal school day or during the summer.”

That’s where Katrina’s Kids steps in, she said. Just barely two years old, the organization has already raised funds to help many foster children throughout the state go to summer camps, join sports teams, scouts or other organizations, take swimming or music lessons, and more. The organization has also provided book bags, suitcases, duffle bags, and winter coats to foster children.

Katrina’s Kids is a volunteer-run organization, with no paid staff. The nonprofit is governed by a board of directors, whose key responsibility is to raise funds for the organization to distribute to foster children. A separate advisory committee researches and recommends to the board how to distribute the money, helping to ensure that needs are met without being duplicated by other resources that may be available to foster children or families.

For more information, visit the organization’s website, or follow it on Facebook.