LUMBERTON — For one lucky Robeson County baby, getting the most votes will be beautiful.
Registration is underway for the Beautiful Baby Contest that serves as a fundraiser for the Robeson County Partnership for Children, the local organization responsible for overseeing state Smart Start efforts.
The most visible work of the partnership is Exploration Station, the children’s museum, said Tim Little, fund development director. But its work overseeing the state’s Smart Start program provides a wealth of resources for parents, teachers and daycare centers.
“We offer an opportunity for all children to come. We offer scholarships to families who can’t afford membership and that’s been very successful,” Little said. “We have preschool groups that come and visit the museum on a regular basis.”
Parents can register their children ages 5 and under for a fee of $20, and people who wish to vote pay $1 for each vote they cast for a child. The girl and the boy with the most votes are declared the winners.
Registration for the Beautiful Baby Contest is at The Robesonian’s website and voting will be at the Robeson County Partnership for Children’s website. Parents must submit a photograph of their child.
Little said parents and extended family members enjoy the fundraiser.
“Some of the people know each other and it’s kind of a fun exchange,” Little said. “Sometimes parents will have a fundraising party at Exploration Station. We offer that if a parent wants to do that, and they often fold in a craft and food event to raise money for votes.”
Proud grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends are encouraged to pay a buck, or more, to cast their votes. The ending is always a surprise.
“We don’t tell anyone what their status is until the end. That keeps some of the suspense up and also makes for a more peaceful contest,” Little said.
Registration ends on Friday. On Mother’s Day, May 14, all of the contestants are announced in The Robesonian.
“We are pleased to once again join forces with the Robeson County Partnership for Children to help promote the 2017 Beautiful Baby Contest fundraiser,” Denise Ward, publisher of The Robesonian, said. “The proceeds of this project play a vital role in our community. We hope that you will join us in participating in this fun event, while at the same time helping enrich the life of another individual.”
Voting begins on May 15. People can vote on Partnership’s website at www.robesonpartnership.org or in person at 210 E. Second St., Lumberton. Registered children must must live in Robeson County. People wishing to vote in the contest can live anywhere.
Voting ends on June 9, nine days before Father’s Day, which is June 18. On Father’s Day, The Robesonian will publish the names and photos of the prince and princess, and of the next 10 top vote-getters. The 12 photos will be used for a calendar.
The fundraiser has been quite successful in the past but it was down last year to $6,000. That’s because the partnership scheduled a benefit auction close to the same time as the baby contest, Little said.
“This year we’ve moved our benefit auction to September so we can work a little harder on the Beautiful Baby contest,” Little said.
The fundraiser’s best year was $15,000 in 2015.
“We just had some really ambitious parents who got behind it,” Little said.
The fundraiser also serves as a way to make the public more aware of the Partnership’s mission. Among the Partnership’s other offerings are:
— A library for day care centers and parents to find resources for children from birth to 5 years old,
— A program called Riverbend that helps children with behavioral problems or learning disabilities,
— Environmental Quality Star Track, which helps day care centers become the best they can be and earn five-star ratings by providing equipment and technical assistance.
Other programs include the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Pre-K Transportation, Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers,Professional Development Services, and Program Coordination, Community Education, and Evaluation.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.