Pour 64 fundraises for The Sandbox

Gust Bartenders Rachael Cost and Mara Campolungo
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On Saturday, May 25, Pour 64 welcomed guest bartenders Mara Campolungo and Rachael Cost, Executive Director and Leadership Chair of The Sandbox.

The Sandbox fundraiser drew a large crowd to Pour 64

“It’s an organization that helps kids and their families,” says Board Member Dave Maloney.  “The kids have rare diseases, so we try to help the families in any way possible.” The Sandbox attempts to meet a wide range of needs spanning the practical, like providing transportation to St. Jude’s, helping out with home repairs or referring families for the legal or medical help they need, to the simply uplifting, like a gift basket.  “Anything of that nature that helps bring comfort to the family or to the individual,” continues Maloney. “We take the load off them as best as possible.”

The Sandbox began when Campolungo and a group of friends saw a need for helping families at Levine Children’s hospital during the Christmas season of 2010.  After the holidays, Campolungo wanted to do more to support the families of children undergoing treatment there.

In the fall of 2011, a social worker at the hospital asked if Campolungo and company would be interested in hosting a prom for patients who would be unable to attend their own proms due either to treatment or the impact of their illness.  “An Evening of Believing Prom” is now The Sandbox’s signature event, a night when treatment and illness take a back seat and “honorees” focus on fun with friends and family.

“We lead up to the prom at the end of summer,” says Maloney.  “The kids get dressed up in tuxes and gowns, and they get the paparazzi.  They get treated like kings and queens! They really have a moment in the sun.”

Today, “An Evening of Believing” is only one part of how The Sandbox helps meet the practical, social and emotional needs of children diagnosed with life-altering or terminal illnesses and their families.  “We have a youth mentor program, and that’s for rising freshman to seniors,” says Campolungo. “When they interview, they agree they will do some sort of fundraiser.”

Saturday’s stint guest bartending was planned by youth mentor Caroline Backus, a young woman with Cerebral Palsy.  An honoree herself for three years, Backus chose to give back to the program that has provided such crucial support to her own family by becoming a youth mentor.

Caroline Backus and her family sporting The Sandbox’s signature teal and purple.

“I’m a youth mentor for The Sandbox, which means I have a person, and I support the family throughout the year,” says Backus.  “I’m their moral support, I’m a friend, I’m always there in case they need anything.” One of the ways youth mentors support their honorees is through fundraising.  “I needed to raise money for my family, so I thought, hey, why don’t we come here?” says Backus, who lives a short distance from Pour 64. “Because who doesn’t love beer?  I talked to the manager, she picked the date, and we got it together.”

For Campolungo, who has participated in many fundraisers, guest bartending at Pour 64 was a the realization of a dream.  “For seven years I’ve wanted to do this!” she says. Decked out in purple and teal, The Sandbox’s branded colors, Campolungo and Cost poured beers and filled growlers to help Backus raise funds for her honoree.

Volunteers and employees were on hand to provide more information about The Sandbox and the CARRE program.

“All of the proceeds tonight – 100% of the tips and 20% of the proceeds – go to our CARRE program,” says Campolungo.  “CARRE stands for ‘Caring About Real Relationships Empathetically.’ That’s the program that helps our families 24-7, 365 days a year.”  Since its humble beginning in 2011, The Sandbox has served over 5000 families through the CARRE program.

“We’re glad to welcome The Sandbox, happy to partner with them for this charity,” says Pour 64 owner Sarah Brock, who hopes to welcome more guest bartenders in the future.  “We feel strongly about charity in general and working with the community, so we’re happy to have Rachael and Mara. It’s a great organization. Anytime we can do anything like that it makes me happy!”

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: marybeth@minthilltimes.com