blessing of fleet beneficiaries

Pictured at the Blessing of the Fleet check presentation on July 9 (from left) are Debbie McLawhorn, founder of Southern Paws Animal Rescue and retired MPPD officer; Jennifer Magwood Ray, wife of an MPFD firefighter and daughter of the Blessing of the Fleet founding family; Nicole Harvey, Special Events Manager for the Town of Mount Pleasant; Ann Magwood, one of the founders of the Blessing of the Fleet and Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie.

The Town of Mount Pleasant and the Magwood family of Mount Pleasant have worked together for the past 32 years to put on the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival to honor local shrimpers and fisherman. This year, the festival that celebrates the maritime heritage of the area had two local beneficiaries.

Southern Paws Animal Rescue (SPAR) and the East Cooper Land Trust (ECLT) are two non-profit partners that worked with the town to make this year’s festival a successful event. At the July 9 Mount Pleasant Town Council meeting, Special Events Manager Nicole Harvey presented the beneficiaries with their contribution for donating their time and energy to volunteer at this year’s festival.

“As the festival has grown over the years, our non-profit partners have become an essential part of its success, assisting us with recruiting nearly 100 volunteers who help from setup to breakdown and everything in between. In return for their efforts, they receive the net proceeds of the event,” Harvey said. “I should also note that many town employees volunteer their time at all of our events and for the generosity of their time, we are truly grateful.”

Due to complications, Harvey explained ECLT was unable to attend the meeting. Harvey described the nonprofit’s conservation efforts in the community to permanently conserve land with environmental, cultural or historical value.

Next, Harvey introduced SPAR founding member Debbie McLawhorn and explained the mission of the nonprofit. SPAR has no paid staff and 100% of funding is used to help the animals they serve. SPAR works hand-in-hand with Charleston County Sherrif’s Office and Mount Pleasant Police Department to help rescue animals. In 2018, they rescued 55 animals, more than half of which came from the Mount Pleasant and Awendaw areas.

“We are proud to have these organizations serving and representing our town,” Harvey said.

The beneficiaries received $6,736.43 each from this year’s Blessing of the Fleet Festival to help continue their missions.