"Angels Anonymous gets together twice a month for different things," said Laura Reavis, Angels Anonymous member. "We used to do a big project each year. This year, we decided to do something to give back again."
Gretchen Bussman, who is a member of Angels Anonymous and also serves as a Cassville High School counselor, spoke to the group about the backpack program, which provides students with a backpack full of nutritious, nonperishable food items.
"We learned that there is such a need for this program," said Reavis.
Angels Anonymous asked McGruder, who is also a member of the group, if she would open her home for the invitation-only fashion show. McGruder agreed to host the event to raise funds for the program.
After securing the location, the group swung into action with each member using her individual talents to make the show a success.
"Becky Hodge did a lot of the decorations," said Reavis, "and Debbie Gatley (owner of Designs by Debbie) provided all of the flowers. Rhon Gurney did all of the food. Everything was homemade and delicious. We had around 30 different appetizers and soups.
"We have a very talented and motivated group of women," said Reavis.
Angels Anonymous also recruited three local businesses, Gussied Up Boutique, Smith's Clothing and The Pink Zebra to display clothing in the fashion show. Each business was responsible for recruiting its own models for the event.
"All of the businesses donated door prizes for the event," said Reavis. "We received door prizes from Designs by Debbies and J&S Bakery also."
Leslie Smith volunteered to serve as master of ceremonies for the fashion show.
During the event, Bussman shared information on Cassville's middle and high school backpack program, which is called Food For Thought. Backpacks are offered to middle school students every other week due to funding.
Elaine Boles, high school nurse, coordinates the program at the high school level. In addition to food, older students receive hygiene products, such as deodorant, soaps and shampoos, in their backpacks.
Kristy Preddy shared information on the program she coordinates at the Cassville Primary and Intermediate Schools. Preddy indicated that the program has grown substantially over the last year.
Walmart supplies two individuals who help pack and deliver the backpacks to students enrolled in the program. The Cassville Backpack Program receives $250 for every 25 hours that each of the men work. When Joe Luney and Brian Hendrix complete 25 hours of service, the program receives a $500 donation from Walmart.
In addition to collecting money through donations and the partnership with Walmart, the Cassville Backpack Program plans to host an annual food drive in conjunction with a home football game next fall.
"The fashion show turned out wonderful," said Reavis. "We have heard nothing but positive things. The mood of the event was very upbeat considering the tragedy that just occurred in Joplin. We will do this again, and next time we will raise money for a different organization."