Habitat Group

Marshall County Habitat for Humanity board members, Sand Mountain Toyota staff and the winner of the car pose with the ‘Drive for the Build’ banner of sponsors. Those photographed include, from left: Dustin Hornbuckle of Alfa Insurance, Pam Osborn of Peoples Independent Bank, Melissa Shell of Habitat for Humanity, Karen Smith, winner of the car, Mark Brickey, general manager/president of Sand Mountain Toyota, Marshall Brooks of Sand Mountain Toyota, and Margaret Lacey of BancorpSouth. Marshall County Habitat for Humanity board members not able to attend the key presentation day include Lori Boatfield, Marshall County Habitat for Humanity president, Tim Cunningham, Jessica Brindley, Greg Lacey, Kevin Parnell, Cindy Formby, Steve Schweiterman, Lee Owen, and Mark Brodhage.

“You just won a new car, a 2022 Toyota Corolla to be exact!” Those are the words Karen Smith of Arab heard Melissa Shell, executive director of Marshall County Habitat for Humanity, say recently. Stunned, Smith asked Shell to repeat what she said and asked for her name a second time. “I thought it was a prank. I did buy three tickets sold by Marshall County Habitat for Humanity Board members, but I never thought I would win,” Smith said.

The exciting phone conversation filled with laughs and “I can’t believe this” statements by Smith was the culmination of a festive day under the Habitat tent at Sand Mountain Toyota. Board members served hotdogs, chips, drinks and gave away door prizes every few minutes. The event was the Marshall County Habitat’s 2021 fundraiser.

“We are very pleased with how well this fundraiser went. We were able to raise more than $20,000 to be put toward building a house for someone in Marshall County in the not too-distant future,” Shell said. “We are so grateful for Sand Mountain Toyota and Wells Fargo for supporting us as presenting partners and Citizens Bank and Trust, Peoples Independent Bank, Bancorp South, Huhtamaki, bpimedia, Brindley’s Family Pharmacy, AlaTrade and Dustin Hornbuckle Alfa Insurance for supporting us at the Gold level and making this fundraiser possible,” Shell said. “Foodland provided hotdogs, buns and chips while Coca Cola provided sodas and water to make it a ‘fair-like atmosphere.’ It truly takes a village to make good things happen,” Shell added.

For several years the Marshall County Habitat for Humanity Board has sponsored the Dragon Boat Races as a yearly fundraiser. Due to COVID restrictions, the Board was not able to sponsor the race in 2020 or this year. “We were very concerned about going two years without a major fundraiser. Many companies, people who are sponsors of the Dragon Boat races, gave us their donation in 2020 because the money was already set aside for that purpose. However, as a board, we felt we needed to try to do some type of fundraiser in its place this year,” Shell said.

Marshal Brooks, who is a Marshall County Habitat for Humanity board member and who works at Sand Mountain Toyota, had an idea. Brooks worked with Mark Brickey, president and general manager of Sand Mountain Toyota, to come up with a vehicle and provide a significant donation toward the cost of the car, and the “Drive to Build” campaign was born.

“Through partnerships we were able to cover the cost of a car and many local businesses provided door prizes for our event. It was a fun day of pulling tickets and giving things away, while raising funds to carry out the habitat mission of building interest-free homes for deserving families,” Shell said.

Brickey says he was happy to help Marshall County Habitat for Humanity with its fundraising goals. “When we started Sand Mountain Toyota, from day one, we were focused on being intentional about giving back and making a difference in our community,” he said. Brickey, who is from a single-parent home, says giving back is in the company’s DNA. “I was raised by my Mom in the projects, so early on we focused on giving to organizations that help struggling women. I was introduced to Mathew 25:35-40, which I refer to as ‘the least of these’ so we also focus on housing through The Home Place, Marshall County Homeless Ministries, which I serve on the board as president, and building houses with Habitat,” Brickey said. The Sand Mountain Toyota family also partners with the Foundation for Marshall Medical and Saint Jude’s Hospital during the Sand Mountain Broadcasting Country Cares, as well as sponsors many ministries and organizations in the community. 

Lori Boatfield, president of the Marshall County Habitat for Humanity Board, applauds Sand Mountain Toyota’s involvement in the community, especially with Habitat, and all other partners who assist Marshall County Habitat for Humanity in its goal of providing interest-free mortgage homes to deserving families. She also emphasized that helping someone build a home of their own is about more than just home ownership. “When you help someone have a home of their own, especially someone who’s never really had one, you help foster stability and pride. There’s a better chance they will succeed and contribute to their community, and that their children will follow their lead – in both success and contributions,” Boatfield said. She added, “When someone lives in a safe, secure, affordable home that they helped construct and that they’re able to pay for themselves because they got a helping hand, everyone in the community benefits. It goes beyond charity. It’s a gift that keeps giving back to the homeowner and society,” Boatfield said.

Shell and Boatfield both agree that Habitat fundraisers are successful because of the community’s involvement. “The people who got involved with Dragon Boat in the summers before COVID, had a hand in making a lasting impact on the family living in their new home in Boaz. Those who were involved with the ‘Drive to Build’ Campaign, our partners, companies who donated prizes or food, the people who purchased tickets, all have a hand in building the next house for a family in Marshall County and ultimately building a future for the good of all its citizens,” Boatfield said.

If you are interested in helping Marshall County Habitat for Humanity in its mission through donations or joining in the next build, contact Melissa Shell, executive director, at 256-202-9468 or via email at habitat.marshallco@gmail.com. If you would like to send a tax-deductible donation, you may send a check to Marshall County Habitat for Humanity; P.O. Box 2; Guntersville, AL 35976-0002.

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