Mon, May 20, 2024

Big donation from Columbia County merchants supports children in need

The most vulnerable infants at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia (CHOG) in Augusta are benefitting from the 4th Annual Spring Fair in Columbia County, thanks to the fair’s sponsors.

The Merchants Association of Columbia County (MACC), a non-profit organization made up of active and retired business owners, presented the hospital with a check for $180,000.

“We just want the community to recognize there are needs in our community, and there are associations in the community that want to help. Especially children in need,” said Carol Garner, MACC Charity Committee Chairperson and President-elect for 2023-2024. “We’re a bunch of volunteers and merchants and we just like giving back to the community.”

The proceeds from the fair will be used to expand the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) from 14 beds to 22 beds to treat children needing critical care.

“Currently, when we have overflow patients, we put them in our pediatric intermediate care beds, which are basically floor beds that were created for care of less acute patients,” explained Kim Basso, Administrative Director for CHOG. “So, what these dollars are going to help us do is take a portion of those beds for use for the acute care patients on the floor and expand our pediatric ICU. So, it will allow us exponentially more flexibility and the ability to care for the sickest of the sick pediatric patients when that need arises.”

Russell Lahodny, President and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, told ABD this is just one example of businesses giving back to the community that supports them year-round.

“There are so many needs, especially as our economy changes. And as we all struggle with certain issues in our lives, it is a way to give back to the community and get some satisfaction out of the hard work that we can put forward,” he said.

Basso said the support of the business community is vital to the care they provide.

“We could not do what we do without the support of the businesses and the people that support those businesses as well,” she said. “Pediatric Care takes a little bit more than care for adults. We have to have things in multiple sizes for pediatric patients. While you can have one bed for an adult patient, you have to have three or four different sizes of beds to manage the needs of the pediatric patients. So, it just costs more sometimes. And doesn’t always get reimbursed fully.”

Gardner said they do it for the children.

“We hope that the kids can get some enjoyment out of all the hard work that our members do and all the people who attended the fair. When those kids couldn’t come, at least they’re going to benefit in some way from this donation that we’re going to give to the Children’s Hospital.”

Although the youngest patients can’t attend, MACC sets aside one day for older patients to experience the sights, sounds, rides, and food at the fair. Fair Fun Day provides free rides and lunch for handicapped, special needs, and disabled kids and their families.

The Spring Fair kicks off the annual series of events sponsored by MACC. The full list, including dates and locations, is at

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