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GoFundMe established to help fund Hallsville seniors' dance

By Robin Y. Richardson
Jan. 13, 2018 at 4 a.m.

HALLSVILLE - A GoFundMe account has been established to help senior citizens in Hallsville pay the new rental rates at Gold Hall Community Center, so that they can continue their Friday night dance tradition.

Touched by the elder residents' plea and efforts to be allowed to rent the building at a discounted rate - to no avail - Harrison County resident Heidi Hitt decided to help by setting up the online GoFundMe account.

"A bunch of my friends were sharing the (newspaper) article (about the seniors' plight) on Facebook and when I read the story, it just choked me up when I saw some of the ladies were crying," Hitt said, referring to a Dec. 28, 2017 article about rates going up from $35 to $100. The Harrison County Commissioners Court didn't consider the seniors' request for a discount.

"They had been doing their dance for so long, some over 20 years, and they were afraid they would have to stop because of this increase in price," Hitt said. "So I thought I should do something."

She set a goal of $3,500 on the GoFundMe page. As of Friday night, the fund had raised $1,240, $700 of that raised in just the first few days. Hitt said the activity has slowed down a bit, but she's hoping to drum up more interest.

Hitt, who has lived in Longview in the western part of Harrison County since 1997 and raised her children in Hallsville schools, said Hallsville is her family.

"I love the community," she said."I thought if they (county officials) weren't going to give in, then by golly, we'll raise the money," Hitt said.

Hitt said she just couldn't sit there and not help.

" I have a lot of Facebook friends; they're really good at sharing my post. A lot of my friends donated," Hitt said.

"I understand the price increase because they have made it much nicer," she added. "I get that, but this is also probably their largest client that uses Gold Hall and I think they should give them a discounted rate - not only because they use it (probably more than) anybody else, but because they are seniors."

She's hoping that the page will not only pay for a full year for the seniors, but that there will also be money left over so the seniors could buy some snacks.

"Even five dollars would really help, because that's how much each senior citizen pays to go," she said of the admission fee to get into the dances.

"If you paid five dollars, that helps one person go one time," Hitt added.

Hitt doesn't have any relatives attending the dances, but she loves helping the elderly.

"I've always had a special place in my heart for seniors," she added. "None of my grandparents are living anymore."

Gaining support

Etta Mizell, one of the founders of the $5 Friday night dances for seniors at Gold Hall, is grateful for Hitt's consideration. Mizell said she tried to convince Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor and Hallsville's Pct. 3 County Commissioner Phillip Mauldin to support a $50 discount rate for the senior citizens, but was unsuccessful.

She's since started a petition that she plans to present to the Harrison County Commissioners Court at a future meeting, demanding that the court reconsider and grant the elderly residents their request for a discount.

"The petition is to the Harrison County Commissioners Court to allow the dance to rent the building for $50," Mizell said. "I have 180 signatures on the petition. We've taken it to the Big Sandy dance and the Gilmer dance, and I took it to the Marshall dance last Thursday night.

"There's so much support," Mizell added. "So many people are talking about the dance."

Mizell said she plans to go to the Hallsville City Council's next meeting, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, to thank the aldermen who have been supportive of their mission.

She also plans to contact each county commissioner on the phone, prior to taking the petition to their meeting, to seek their consideration.

"We don't want to start dancing again until we hear from the city and we hear from the commissioners," she said.

The band, who pays the rental fee, feels like they could pay $50 a week instead of the new $100 rental rate, she said.

"The band is in charge of the dance; they collect the money, pay for the building and then the band," Mizell explained.

Hitt was invited to one of the dances in Marshall, where she met some of the Hallsville elderly dancers for the first time and also signed the petition.

"They were all very sweet," Hitt said.

It makes her want to fight even harder for them through the GoFundMe account.

"If everyone could afford just a few dollars to give, then we could raise enough money for these seniors to continue at least for this year," Hitt said. "Not only do the elderly love their Friday night dances, it's great exercise and fellowship for them. A lot of them are widowed and lonely and they look forward to these dances on Friday."

Thus, as she wrote on the GoFundMe page, "Let's show them that we love them! Please give what you can!"

The GoFund me page can be found online at: .

Hitt stressed that the money will be disbursed through GoFundMe.

"This money does not come to me," she said. "GoFundMe makes arrangements to send it to whomever we have to send it to."



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