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Canvas and Cocoa fundraiser produces strong turnout

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

Lori Springer was hoping for a good turnout Sunday.

To her surprise and delight, artists both young and old turned out to fill the room for Canvas and Cocoa, a fundraiser for Drug Free Shelby County.

Thirty-eight artists participated, five more than the original maximum number set.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” she said. “I’m excited the kids are enjoying themselves. It’s fun.”

Springer, the executive director of Drug Free, sat down and participated in creating her own painting, which was chosen by Hendricks Elementary art teacher Dawn Adams.

The event raised money for a trip for youth council members to go on later this summer. They are wanting to go to Orlando, Florida, for a training through the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, which will provide instruction on identifying drug-related problems in the community. Springer previously said the trip will cost each student $1,000 to go.

With about 30 minutes remaining before the young artists wrapped up their painting, the wheels were turning in Springer’s head. Sunday’s artistic fun suggested that Drug Free could become an annual event, with possibly another one this summer, she said.

That sounded just fine with Adams, who enthusiastically said she would be happy to lead future events.

Adams said she chose Sunday’s painting, featuring little birds sitting on tree branches with Valentine’s hearts replacing leaves, because she was going with the Valentine’s Day theme. She said she had 3-4 examples but the one chosen stood out.

“I thought it would be hung up longer after Valentine’s Day,” she said.

Several former members of the Take 5 program, a media club for Shelby County youth who learn about drug-free activities and create radio ads that are then played on air, were in attendance, Springer noted.

When they were done, students, who ranged in age from 5 years old to adults, had an 11x14 painting to take home. And from the looks of nearly 40 artists crammed in, Drug Free might have to make it an annual event.

“It’s such a value, they didn’t (charge) a high amount (in admission fees),” Adams said. “To have a cup of hot chocolate and cookies while painting, you couldn’t beat that. This is a good cause.”