Dozens of people gathered Saturday at Senate’s End in Columbia for an afternoon of music, fun and oyster shucking to support a good cause.

The 15th annual oyster roast for Communities In Schools of the Midlands, presented by Dominion Energy, raised nearly $40,000 as of Saturday, with last-minute donations still being counted.

Communities in Schools is a nonprofit operating in 25 states and the District of Columbia and serving more than 1.5 million students. The Midlands branch was founded in 1986, devoted to partnering with schools to help improve the graduation rate of local students.

The pandemic brought new challenges, and Communities in Schools worked to support students and their families with not only academic assistance but also help with rent, groceries and more.

“We wanted to make sure our most vulnerable population, the people who need us the most, were surrounded by a community of love and support,” said CEO Tanika Epps. “We were literally wherever they were. Our staff was there without concern for themselves, concerned only for the students they serve.”

The oyster roast featured fresh steamed oysters, fried oysters, oyster and shrimp po’ boy and desserts, along with live music from the Reggie Sullivan Duo.

More information on Communities in Schools is available at cism.org.

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