INTRODUCTIONS: Meet Tasha Barnes

of Save Our Youth Savannah

Tasha Barnes, co-creator of Save Our Youth Savannah and a charity advocate, has worked tirelessly for over a decade to give back to those in the community who need it. In addition to staying busy year-round with charity fundraisers and community events, she goes the extra mile for the holidays with her annual “Holly Jolly Christmas,” a fundraiser where Barnes and her team help less fortunate kids in the Savannah area with food and toys. This Thanksgiving, she’s gearing up to feed hot meals to elderly in the community with her annual Thanksgiving “Feed Savannah” initiative.

Tell us a little bit more about your background.

I’m a single mother of four children, three girls and one boy, and I was born and raised in Savannah. I’m also the co-creator of Save Our Youth Savannah, an organization that works to help families in need with everyday living. 

I’m very passionate about helping others and I’m a firm believer in community and the power of faith. I started Save Our Youth because I had a difficult childhood and I know what it’s like to struggle and to need help. My mission is to give love back to those who need it and before forming Save Our Youth Savannah, I was silently giving back with a few other members of the community.

Can you tell us a little bit more about Feed Savannah?

We started Feed Savannah in honor of Jerry “Smitty” Hampton, a young man who died several years ago on the Savannah bridge. Jerry was one of the gentlemen who silently donated with me years ago. It was a small operation and we donated to a few families but we still made an impact. When he tragically passed, we started Feed Savannah in his memory to continue on his legacy and the impact that he made in the community. 

This year for our annual Thanksgiving Feed Savannah fundraiser, we decided to give out hot meals to the elderly. During the pandemic, I learned that our seniors and elderly disabled were affected way more than people realized. I felt that they needed some extra love and attention this year. We will be visiting different Independent living facilities and providing a hot meal to them. I think it’s extra important to let our elderly community know that we haven’t forgotten about them and that we appreciate everything that they’ve done for us along the way.

How does it feel to give back to so many people?

Oh, it’s something that can’t be put into words...to see the faces of the people we’re helping. It’s the best feeling in the world. It’s like we gave them platinum and to us we’re giving away silver. 

You said you’ve struggled as a single mother,  what’s the hardest part about raising children solo and how do you stay so positive?

The hardest part is figuring it out. A lot of times you don’t have all of the answers so you do your best to figure it out. Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. As kids get older, their personalities change, so it’s kind of really just figuring it out along the way. It’s tough though, but we make it work. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow in life.

I think my faith and seeing the power of community is what keeps me so positive. And working with such great volunteers and other people who are looking to give love back. 

What would you say to encourage someone to donate to charity?

Always remember that no one is exempt. Especially after this pandemic, everyone should know that we never know what hand life is going to throw us. I believe that if you’re in a position to do anything, it doesn’t have to be financial, but just donating your time to help out and give back. 

I don’t think you have to have a lot to give a lot. I was a lost child myself and growing up a lot of the times the parents in our village didn’t have a lot but they shared what they had. With that, we were able to multiply and sit at tables to eat. We didn’t understand at the time how they came together as a village just to feed the community. But they did it, and I’m just big on that. They led the way. 

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

I would buy my kids a dream home and build a community center for kids. 

Do you have a personal mantra?

Purpose over people. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I love to cook! I make my own salsa actually. I make garlic butter sauce, seasonings, different types of salsas that can go on a variety of different foods. Cooking is my outlet and each salsa that I’ve made has been made in different seasons of my life. I’m constantly looking for new salsa recipes online!

To learn m ore about Tasha and the mission of Save Our Youth Savannah, visit saveouryouthsavannah.com

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