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Summer program canceled for 2021

Organizers of the popular New Hope Summer Program confirmed, this week, that a perfect storm of negative effects from the COVID 19 pandemic has forced them to cancel this year’s event.

According to Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., founder of the Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center and creator of the program, fundraising efforts did not produce what the group needed in order to offer all the benefits traditionally included in the summer-long program for youth from 6 to 15 years old.

“We are about $10,000 away from our goal, but so much has happened with people who have passed and all the pandemic’s negative effects on peoples’ budgets,” Jones said, adding that most of the at-risk youth served by this program would have been unable to participate because they had to attend summer school to make up for the shortcomings of at-home learning during this past school year.

Jones expressed deep gratitude for the generosity of donors who stepped up to this year’s challenges, guaranteeing that the funds raised so far – just over $60,000 – “will not get touched until September, when we will hopefully start operating our school suspension program and planning for next year’s summer program.”

This is the first time that Jones has had to cancel the three-month-long enrichment program since it was founded in 1999. Jones said children from Beaufort County and beyond have always been treated to “several recreation options, meals and snacks, one movie each day, a game room, field trips, use of the sports field at J.C. Tayloe Elementary School, and a regular curriculum including reading, spelling, drama, science, and home economics so they can take care of themselves if needed.” Planning for this year’s program had also included extra training for camp staff so they could spot signs of suicidal ideation, which Jones said has increased among area youth because of the “deep emotional turmoil caused by the isolation forced on them by the restrictions of the pandemic.”

Jones said donations are still being accepted for the youth activities and other enrichment programs offered at the POG Annex. Anyone interested in adding to the fundraising total or getting more information about the group’s programs may reach Purpose of God Annex at purposeofgodannex.com or by calling the office at 252-974-1484.