Snack in a Backpack holds Mardi Gras event at Merciers Orchard

Community, News

Bringing a taste of New Orleans to the North Georgia Mountains was one goal of Snack in a Backpack (SIAB) organization. Lots of good food, festive music, and camaraderie of fellow Fannin County citizens gathering together to raise money for the SIAB program were a few other goals. Mercier Orchards graciously donated their facility for the gallant evening.

Each weekday Fannin County children are given meals at breakfast and lunch. On weekends many children who rely on school meals might go without nourishing food or not have enough to eat. Snack in a Backpack volunteers begin packing bags with non-perishable, healthy food on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. to ensure children have something to take home for the weekend.

Lee Walker, Dr. & Mrs. Michael Gwatney, Karl Wilson

School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney said while standing in line for the buffet at the nights event, “The hardest decision I ever have to make is to close a school. If I have to delay a school opening, that means a child doesn’t get breakfast. Or if I have close the school for the day, the child does not get breakfast or lunch.”

Guests were treated with a wonderful array of foods on the buffet table cooked by chefs at Merciers Orchards. Food choices included chicken gumbo, shrimp and sausage jambalaya, and black-eyed peas among other snacks and salads. Popular choices of Louisiana cooks during Mardi Gras.

Desserts were made by local bakery artisans at Chester’s,Tonia Ross, and Sweet Shoppe of the South. Ross provided a two-layer sheet cake, Chester’s donated two pies, and Sweet Shoppe delivered cupcakes. All sweets definitely delighted the palates of the guests by the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ being heard in the room.

Rollin’ Blues Band

Attendees visited with each other, made bids for silent auction items on display in one of Merciers sales room while listening to Rollin’ Bones Band playing R & B, rock, and soul music. Winners of generous bids walked away with beautiful prizes and the funds go to Snack in a Backpack.

Mardi Gras themed Bringin’ the Blues to Blue Ridge was the 10th annual fundraiser for Snack in a Backpack.



Event table sponsors were:

  • A. D. Frazier Family.
  • America’s Home Place.
  • Blue Ridge Coin Shop.
  • Dickey-McCay Insurance.
  • United Community Bank.
  • Woodman Life (Richard York).


Volunteers are always welcome to help prepare the weekly bags or to deliver to designated schools. For more information contact Angela Huffstetler, program director at 706-851-8190 or

All donations are tax deductible. Personal and corporate donations help keep this much needed program successful and are sincerely appreciated. Donations can be made by cash, check or PayPal.
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WoodmenLife donates to Children’s Fund

Community, Education
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Richard York, of WoodmenLife, presented a check to Fannin County School Systems on Friday, Nov. 17, to help with the school system’s Children’s Fund.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Fannin County School System, WoodmenLife, Children's Fund, Feed Fannin, Family Connection, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Shannon York, Richard York, Social Worker, Tara Cantrell, Betsy Hyde

Dr. Michael Gwatney receives check from Richard York on behalf of the Children’s Fund.

WoodmenLife is a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society. While they are in the business of selling insurance, WoodmenLife also focuses on giving back to the community.

Former Fannin County educator Shannon York explained, “Every year they pick a particular community focus, and this year it was hunger.”

Having worked with Feed Fannin and Family Connection this year, Shannon York said that giving to the Children’s Fund was naturally a good fit for the theme and filling the needs of children in our community not only allows them a better education but also a sense of belonging.

The Children’s Fund is set up through the Fannin County School System. System Social Worker Tara Cantrell explained the workings of the program: “It is a fund that all of the schools have worked to develop because we just keep seeing needs arise. Any of the schools are able to use the funds.”

Established in early 2016, the Children’s Fund has already helped students of Fannin County with purchases of books, glasses, food and clothing.

The fund doesn’t just supply the basic needs of kids, it also gives children opportunities that might not be available to them only for lack of funds. The Children’s Fund has also been used to supply instruments and uniforms as well as help pay for college applications.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney pointed out that the Children’s Fund has been self-sustaining through fundraising and donations from the community.

Cantrell added, “We couldn’t do it without community support. It just goes to show how much the community values our children.”



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Natalie Kissel

Troup 11627 Raising the New Flag

Rebel's Corner

Left to Right:  Ryan Larson, Leneah Edwards, Katelyn Sanders, Cherokee Cook, Morgan Lariscy, Harlee Gilliam and Aerial McKinney.

Left to Right:  Aerial McKinney(standing on ground), Morgan Lariscy, Cherokee Cook, Katelyn Sanders, Ryan Larson(all on the flag base) Harlee Gilliam and Leneah Edwards(both standing on ground)

**Above are a couple of pictures of Troup 11627 raising the new flag at the baseball field. The flag was donated by Richard York, Woodmen Life.** - Dedicated to serve the needs of the community. Provide a source of real news-Dependable Information-Central to the growth and success of our Communities. Strive to encourage, uplift, warn, entertain, & enlighten our readers/viewers- Honest-Reliable-Informative.

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