Harps Food Store in Greenbrier donated $1,500 to the Area 17 chapter of the Special Olympics of Arkansas Wednesday.
Brenda Dowdy, a Guy resident who serves on the Polar Plunge Board for Area 17 — an event to raise money for the Special Olympics of Arkansas (SOAR) — said she was grateful for the donation and that the funds will directly benefit local athletes.
Money donated Wednesday by the Greenbrier Harps will help purchase equipment for softball gear for Area 17 athletes, which encompasses Faulkner, Pope, Conway, Perry and Van Buren counties.
"[This donation] means we can have the correct equipment to participate in the sports we're doing this summer," she said, noting the group will put the money toward helmets, bats and gloves.
She also said she hopes to purchase some floor hockey — a favorite among local SOAR athletes — helmets through the funds provided by Harp's.
Greenbrier store manager Carrie Magness said the donation was made possible through an annual charity golf tournament that raises funds for local nonprofits throughout northern and central Arkansas.
According to the store's website, the Harps Charity Golf Classic has raised more than $2.4 million throughout the past 20 years, which has benefited more than 550 charities in northern and central Arkansas as well as in eastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri.
Harps CEO Roger Collins said funds are spread out throughout communities where Harps or Price Cutter stores are located.
"We appreciate the great support Harps has received from our customers, vendors and associates," Collins said. "It is a privilege to be able to give back to the communities that we serve. Helping to strengthen our communities is a cornerstone of the Harps mission."
Magness said she is blessed to be a part of team that gives back locally.
"I'm grateful we were able to help and give what we could toward [this program]," she said, Thursday.
Dowdy, who accepted the gift at the Greenbrier store on Wednesday, was accompanied by her 43-year-old daughter Sandy when she received the $1,500 check.
For Sandy, a SOAR athlete, donations like this go a long way, Dowdy said.
"We appreciate the support from Harps and are hoping to get the store and other businesses more involved with SOAR and the Polar Plunge," she said, Thursday.
The Polar Plunge raises money— used to help cover all funds from supplies to training athletes and educating coaches — so athletes have the opportunity to participate in all events at the Special Olympics.
The 2018 Polar Plunge, which was held at Woolly Hollow State Park in February, raised around $14,000 for SOAR.