VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta Board of Realtors had no idea when they first began the South Georgia Women's Show two years ago that the community service project would be enormously successful -- so successful, in fact, that they were able to hand out checks to half a dozen local charities and organizations for more than $16,000 this year.

"We did even better than last year, when we raised about $14,000," said Geri Carnevale, executive director of the board.

Benefiting from the organizations' largesse were the Georgia Sheriff's Boys Ranch, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice of South Georgia, the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and Break Bread Together.

"This money came just in time to help us get our boys ready to go back to school," said Beth Tillman, director of the Boys Ranch, commenting on how enormous an undertaking it is to purchase clothes, shoes and school supplies for more than 40 boys.

Carnevale said the board was particularly pleased with its ability to pay off the pledge it made to the Arts Center three years earlier than planned.

"We pledged $10,000 over a five year period and gave them $2,000 last year. This year, we gave them another $2,000 but the show was so successful, we were able to give them the rest of the money we pledged, $6,000," said Carnevale.

Habitat for Humanity received $2,500, and the Boys Ranch, Hospice and Break Bread Together each received $2,000.

Pastor Don Stanley of the First Presbyterian Church which sponsors Break Bread Together, a private program similar to the government sponsored Meals on Wheels, said the money will pay for several hundred hot meals.

"We provide one hot meal a day to 45 or 50 people, delivered by a volunteer," he said, adding that the program is always in need of volunteers to help sort and delivered the meals.

Board President Todd Tillman said the Realtors are very pleased with the results of their hard work and plan to continue the Women's Show each year. Organized by volunteers from the board, Tillman said the show and the subsequent money raised "is our way of giving back to the community."

To contact Business Editor Kay Harris,

call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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