Rogers fly-In and breakfast support Head Start program

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 141 views 

Northwest Arkansans basked in the sunshine Saturday (June 29) for the 11th annual Fly-In and Drive-In Breakfast at the Rogers Municipal Airport.

The event raised money for Hallie Martin Head Start. Hallie Martin Head Start is a branch of Head Start of Northwest Arkansas, a nonprofit preschool that helps children in Benton, Carroll and Madison counties. Donations and money from a silent auction will be used for Christmas gifts, clothes, and school supplies for children and families in need.

Head Start is a nationwide nonprofit organization that has been affected by the budget sequestration passed by the U.S. Congress earlier this year. The cuts in funding meant that Head Start of Northwest Arkansas has had to reduce its preschool enrollment by 20%, from 558 to 443 children, said Kaleigh Rigdon, community partnership coordinator for the organization. The Hallie Martin branch did not have to reduce its enrollment, she said.

"This event is important because the families we help often have more than one child," Rigdon said. "These families often include cousins, nieces and nephews, so we don't provide just one gift." Last year Hallie Martin was able to fill 15 vans with Christmas presents, Rigdon said. “Christmas is such a hard time for these families.”

People enjoyed a hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausage and bacon. Plenty of pilots brought their planes to display on the tarmac, and members of the classic car club Heartbeat of the Ozarks displayed their cars to the event as well. The owners of the planes and cars were there to answer questions from visitors. Rogers Fire Department firefighters were on hand to show people how to perform CPR.

"Our goal is to increase the number of people who can do CPR before we get there," said Captain Greg Bray.

Members of the “Nighthawks” of the Arkansas Civil Air Patrol, 115th Squadron of Rogers, were on hand to answer questions about the service.

“We’re an auxiliary of the Air Force,” said Cadet Major Keely Torgerson, who is also deputy commander of cadets. “We’re kind of a mix between the Air Force ROTC and the Boy Scouts.”

Volunteers ran the show, from cooking and serving breakfast to managing the silent auction. Wal-Mart corporate security guards volunteered their time at the event.

“Our main job is to keep curious kids safe,” said Dave O’Dell, a corporate security manager who was volunteering his time.

Rogers High School student Noah Evans has volunteered at the event for three years.

“I like to serve people,” he said during a lull at the breakfast line.

Rigdon believes Head Start plays a vital role in the Northwest Arkansas community.

“Teaching such young children gives them many advantages and can help them live a better life,” she said.

Head Start helps more than 1 million children, according to the National Head Start Association.