Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 16, 2012

Pecan Paradise

VECA gears up for holidays

VALDOSTA — Aside from a Christmas tree and Santa Claus, in South Georgia, nothing says happy holidays like some sweet, Southern pecans.

Valdosta Early College Academy students are gearing up for their Fourth Annual Holiday Pecan sales.

Partnering with South Georgia Pecan Company, VECA's fundraiser supports not only the children of an educational program, but also supports local businesses and local growers while keeping tax dollars working within the community and the state of Georgia.

“Everybody wins,” said  Brian Gerber, director of curriculum, instruction and outreach for Valdosta State University.

Gerber said the money from this fundraiser supports multiple aspects of VECA.

It helps the eighth graders take their annual trip to Washington, D.C., allows the school to purchase reading material such as Newsweek and National Geographic for kids, and it also goes toward the schools new 1 to 1 iPad initiative that has helped provide an iPad for every child in the school.

“We use these funds to help supplement the academic foundation of the school,” said Gerber.

Aside from South Georgia Pecan, VECA has also partnered with The Times and U.S. Press. For Gerber, this fundraiser isn’t just about supporting VECA, but supporting the local economy.

“The tax money that is spent here stays in this county,” said Gerber. “It doesn’t help the local economy anything like it does when you purchase locally.”

It’s a win-win-win for the person, community and VECA as every individual that makes a purchase through the fundraiser will receive a special letter from VSU that enables them to use their purchase as a donation write off.

“They get a letter that they can use on their tax return,” said Gerber.

Melissa Boatenreiter, South Georgia Pecan retail manager and head of marketing, feels that the VECA Holiday Pecan Sales is an important fundraiser for the school and for the community.

“We try every opportunity we can to be involved with the community,” said Boatenreiter.

Purchasing their pecans through VECA supports farmers, growers and even the employees of the local business as South Georgia Pecan hires more people during the holiday season to help meet the demand of its products, Boatenreiter said.

VECA is an innovative school formed as a partnership between the Valdosta City School District and Valdosta State University. It blends middle/high school and college into one program that provides rigorous curriculum with high academic and behavioral expectations.

For the VECA students, this fundraiser means the world.

“It helps us raise money for our schools and every little bit counts,” said ninth-grader Shenya Jackson.

“I sell so we can do the field trip to Washington, D.C. It also helps our school,” said seventh-grader Benny Zhang.

“It can help the school buy supplies and just help out the school,” said sixth-grader Daniel Akins.

For eighth-grader Jada Willis, she has a particular strategy to convince people to buy.

“I’ll say that our school really needs the help and it will be a benefit to the both of us,” Willis said.

The Holiday Pecan Sale will last through Dec. 10. A hundred percent of the net proceeds from all sales support VECA.

To order a holiday canister of chocolate amaretto pecan halves, chocolate nut trio and more, go online to myveca.com or mail or fax an order form available from a student or a member of the community. Shipping is easy and simple and costs $8 per item. All orders will be shipped USPS Priority, UPS or FedEx.

Customers have the option of delivering gift boxes to employees, clients, colleagues, or relatives and friends personally to avoid shipping costs.

More information: Contact Gerber at (229) 333-5353; or blgerber@valdosta.edu.

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