Local grassroots organization supports school children

Blessings in a Bookbag throws first Seersuckers, Stilettos and Stogies event

“Lady Mahogany” Bowers stands among donations from the community as a showing of her dedication to her cause to feed children in need.
“Lady Mahogany” Bowers stands among donations from the community as a showing of her dedication to her cause to feed children in need.
Blessings can come in many forms, including stuffed bookbags. To continuously provide blessings for the community, a local community nonprofit organization, Blessings in a Bookbag, Inc., is hosting a fundraiser like they’ve never done before.

Fundraising event, Seersuckers, Stilettos and Stogies Day Party, will take place on June 26 from 4-10 p.m. at Red Gates Farms.

The organization released, Seersuckers, Stilettos and Stogies is their official day party where the community is invited to head out and enjoy food, drinks and also an opportunity to network with other business owners and collaborate in the community. Tickets for the event are $50 in advance and they will be $65 at the door. All proceeds will benefit BIBB.

“We’re southerners so people have seersuckers and linen that they are just waiting to put on!” said Blessings in a Bookbag, Inc. Founder Weslyn Mahogany Bowers— widely known by her former radio-personality name “Lady Mahogany.”

Lady Mahogany said BIBB hosts a fundraiser every year, but due to the pandemic, Blessings in a Bookbag had to get creative and throw two fundraisers to be even more efficient.

BIBB is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure that impoverished elementary school children are fed on the weekends throughout the school year. This mission began with Lady Mahogany’s personal mission to be who she needed when she was an adolescent.

The organization gathers protein, fruits, vegetables, milk, and non-perishable items, and packages them in large gallon-sized zip-close bags. Then, on Fridays, they show up in the Otis J Brock III Elementary School throughout the school year and during the Summer to disburse the food to students. The founder said, not only do the students receive food, but they also receive a smile, a hug and some consistency in their lives because children need all of those things. Lady Mahogany said she was born and raised here in Savannah, and she attended what was then Bartow Elementary but what is now Otis J Brock III Elementary School, she recalls life experiences that were not favorable for an elementary school girl.

“I remember eating a meal in Bartow Elementary School cafeteria on Friday morning at 11 a.m. and not having another meal until Monday morning when I returned back to school for breakfast,” Bowers said. “I was the kid on the receiving end of the [BIBB] bag but there was no bag.

“I understand what it feels like to be a child and not have the simple need of food be fulfilled. When you come back to school you’re not focused on food, you’re focused on surviving and stability, and that becomes very hard on a child. So since then, I knew that this was something that was needed in my community.”

Lady Mahogany said the organization’s mission is very personal to her.

“That’s why it’s so much like water for me to run it,” said Bowers. “When you’re speaking from a first-hand experience, it’s not hard to convince people that the need is strong.”

The founder said the initiative started with her going back to her childhood school. Because she knew that there were many children that shared her former circumstance, she started going to the grocery stores and spending her own money to fill up bags and pass them out to school children from the trunk of her car. It started with 25 bags until one day the principal of the elementary school said to her, “We know who you are and we know what you’re doing. Let us help you,” Bowers said.

“That’s how 25 bags turned into 250 bags that are passed out weekly and have been for over nine years. It only stayed at 25 bags for the first six months, but I could not continue to pass out 25 bags when I knew there were 50 kids that needed it, 75 kids that needed it, 100 kids that needed it,” Bowers said.

Lady Mahogany said that the organization’s support comes from the community.

School children are grateful for Blessings in a Bookbag contributions. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLESSINGS IN A BOOKBAG
PHOTO COURTESY OF BLESSINGS IN A BOOKBAG
School children are grateful for Blessings in a Bookbag contributions.
“Blessing in a Bookbag is a little different from other 501(c)(3)s because the majority of them receive some type of government funding,” Bowers said. “We have been alive for 10 years and we have not received any government funding. We have been able to survive as a 100% grassroots organization meaning that our funding, our volunteers, and our resources come directly from our community.”

The founder said the organization likes to tap into reciprocity when engaging with the community— we serve them and they serve us, she said.

“We like to teach a hand up and not a hand out so mutual community support is the way that we have been able to sustain ourselves,” Bowers said.

Lady Mahogany asked that the community continue to come out, show love and support the mission again at the upcoming Seersuckers, Stilettos and Stogies Day Party.

Up next, in August, BIBB will host its 10th annual Back to School Bash where donors, volunteers and supporters are needed. More information on this big bash will be released.

“The kids are going to need more than ever this year because of the pandemic. I just know it,” Bowers said.

Visit eventbrite.com/e/seersucker-stilettos-and-stoggies-day-party-tickets-156828493245 to purchase tickets for Seersuckers, Stilettos, and Stogies Day Party. To support and/or contact Blessings in a Bookbag, Inc. email blessinginabookbag@gmail.com or call 912-388-9102.

About The Author

Brandy Simpkins

Brandy Simpkins is the community/ event journalist for Connect Savannah. Simpkins is a born and raised Savannahian and an alumna of Savannah Savannah State University where she received her B.A. in English Language & Literature. Simpkins enjoys writing more than anything else in the world. She is a curious journalist,...
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