By Chris Berendt Staff Writer
March 21, 2014
Driving out drugs and addiction is something experts say needs to be ingrained at an early age, and bringing that drug awareness and prevention to youngsters is the fuel that powers the annual “Drive In to Drive Out Drugs,” which will once again roll into downtown Clinton next week.
For the third year, the Sampson County Meth Task Force is partnering with the Clinton Main Street Program and Eastpointe to bring the event to downtown Clinton. The drive-in will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29, on the courthouse square.
The drive-in was developed to serve as a signature fundraising event for the Task Force, a community group that addresses substance abuse issues by emphasizing education and drug use prevention in an effort to ease the burden of suppression and intervention ultimately placed on the shoulders of law enforcement.
All proceeds from the event will benefit Sampson youth through the Task Force’s educational programs, specifically funding “Stay on Track” early intervention materials for the county’s sixth graders.
“This effort involves reducing access to substances, preventing high-risk behaviors, promoting community awareness, connecting community resources and providing education,” said DSS director Sarah Bradshaw, a member of the Meth Task Force. “Two of our core strategies are public awareness and early intervention. The annual ‘Drive-In to Drive-Out Drugs’ event accomplishes both.”
The Drive-In will be a family-friendly event featuring motorcycles, cars, trucks, tractors, emergency service, business vehicles and even an “Ugly truck” contest. Music will be provided by Robert Stroud of the Boogie Shoes Network and there will be line dancing.
Registration begins at 10 a.m. that Saturday in the parking lot at the west end of the Sampson County Courthouse and is $20 per vehicle. Spectators are free. Registrants and donors will receive a free drink coupon to be used at participating downtown businesses , including Alfredo’s, Andy’s/Hwy 55, and Butler’s Pharmacy. There will also be a 50/50 drawing to raise additional funds for the “Stay on Track” program.
The drive-in has raised nearly $4,000 in two years.
Clinton-Sampson planning director Mary Rose, who also serves as director of the Main Street Program, said she is excited to bring the third-annual event to the downtown. The hope, through the annual drive-in, is that people from Clinton and Sampson County, and beyond, will gather locally to enjoy a pleasant event for a worthy cause.
Following last year’s event, Meth Task Force chairman J.W. Simmons credited the community support for the group’s annual event, and the effectiveness of solid community partnerships within the city and county, and Eastpointe. Simmons said he appreciated the support and, like others, wanted to grow the event while keeping its core goal — an antique car show that assists a worthy cause — intact.
At that time, he mentioned the possibility of having a firefighters competition or similar event that might boost overall participation, while giving spectators another activity to enjoy. That has now come to fruition.
The first-annual “Battle of the Badges” competition between the Clinton Fire Department and Clinton Police Department, held in conjunction with the drive-in, will pit firefighters and law enforcement officers against each other in some good-spirited competition to see who will have bragging rights for 2014.
While there will be friendly competition between those with badges and those with wheels, there will be fun for all in an event aimed to unite a community under a single goal.
Ken Jones, director for Eastpointe Mental Health, has called Sampson leaders a “strong and cohesive group” committed to drug abuse prevention activities. The “Drive In” event was a great example of that, Jones noted.
“If this event saves one life, the benefit to the community is worth all of the effort,” Jones has said. “The ripple effect of an active substance abuser impacts the community, family and individual in physical, emotional and economic ways. This prevention raises awareness of the problem and provides support to our community.”
“Addiction and its associated tragedies continue to destroy lives, families and communities. The Sampson County Meth Task Force is pleased to be part of this effort to enlighten, prevent and interdict the abuse of addictive substances,” Simmons has said. “The community recognizes the need to being these resources together toward obtaining materials to prevent addiction and substance abuse, and do that at an early age.”
The March 29 event is aimed at trying to reduce the number of people, especially young children, who fall victim to substance abuse and addiction — and it takes a village, making a family event an apt way to raise awareness and funds.
“We are very pleased with the success of past Drive-In events and we certainly encourage everyone to come out on Saturday, March 29th to help us have achieve yet another positive outcome for our citizens, whether it’s our youth or adults,” Bradshaw remarked. “It takes an entire community working together to combat drug abuse and it’s negative impact on individuals and families.”
For more information, call 910-299-4904 or visit www.methdeath.org. Those wishing to make a donation to the Task Force can make checks payable and mail to: Sampson County Meth Task Force, P.O. Box 1105, Clinton N.C. 28329.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.