Southern Sweetheart Pageant to raise funding for foster youth


Pitts Promise for Foster Youth will be hosting a Southern Sweetheart Pageant this month, in order to raise funds and supplies for those within our foster care system.

The organization was founded by Anabelle Pitts, who saw a need in the community and decided to address it.

“I am a first-gen college student,” Pitts said. “I was applying for scholarships and I found one based on kids being in foster care. It was for $5,000 and I was so sure I would get it, because I spent so many years in foster care. I was denied, because I was returned to my biological parent when I was 17. I was returned, I think, in May and then turned 18 in July. I was just a few months short. I was denied for that and began wondering that, if I was denied, who else was? So, I wanted to start my own that wouldn’t have such strict criteria.”

The group officially started in July of 2022 and they’re still in early stages of forming, building up assets and being an organization that will last in the long term. While they haven’t announced any scholarship recipients yet, they’ve been working hard to offer other benefits while they do that legwork of forming themselves.

They’ve collected Christmas toys, raised hygiene products, and have collected luggage for kids within the system to carry their property in.

“When we were in foster care, we only ever had minutes to gather our belongings for a move, sometimes,” Pitts said. “We usually had to use trash bags. Picking up your life so immediately and showing up to someone carrying trash bags can make you feel worthless. Something like a suitcase can give someone dignity.”

The upcoming pageant will be a driving force for scholarship money and hygiene items.

The attire for the pageant will be Valentine’s Day wear but doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day theme. This is a natural pageant. Makeup and hair are allowed, but not required. Additional OOC is allowed for $15 and the highest score will be used for judging, giving the entry two chances.

There will also be an optional talent scoring.

“Do you have a special talent you would like to showcase?” the informational forms ask. “We would love to watch you sing, dance, flip, twirl, cheer, etc. If we have five contestants enter, we will award a talent supreme. Talent will be a separate score; it will not hurt you if you do not wish to participate.”

There will be one Division Supreme per age category. The categories for girls include 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-18. The categories for boys include 0-2, 2-4, 5 and up. Age divisions may be divided or broken up as needed. A Boy Supreme will be awarded if more than four boys enter.

There will be an optional Fan Favorite category.

“All proceeds collected from fan favorite votes will go directly in our scholarship fund to help current and former foster youth afford a college education,” the registration release states. “Fan Favorite will receive a four-inch gorgeous crown and trophy. You and your family and friends can vote before and during the pageant all the way up to crowning. Be promoting to the close ones in your life to help support you and our scholarship fund!”

There will be an optional Humanitarian Ambassador category.

“For this pageant we will be doing a hygiene drive to donate to foster youth in Scioto County,” The release explains, “We will donate hygiene bags to surrounding agencies. The contestant that brings the highest amount of pre-made hygiene bags will receive a beautiful crown, trophy, custom sash, Pitts Promise t-shirt, and free entry in our next pageant.”

The hygiene bags must include toothbrush, toothpaste, bar soap, and deodorant.

Mini Supreme, Grand Supreme, and Ultimate Grand Supreme will be awarded, but not included in basic entry fees. Mini Supreme is $10, Grand Supreme is $15, and Ultimate Grand Supreme is $20. These cannot be double crowned, outside of optional categories.

Photogenic Supreme is an optional award category.

“This event is optional,” explained the release. “You can submit one photo for $10 or three photos for $20. Please bring the hard physical copy or original photo the day of the pageant, 5×7 or 8×10. No virtual photos will be accepted. No exceptions.”

Checks are not accepted, cash only, and judgements are final. Score sheets may be requested after the crowning.

For any questions, comments or concerns, please message Pitts at the Pitts Promise Facebook page, by email at [email protected] or by text at 740.352.0798.

“The first pageant went amazingly and I am feeling so good about this second one,” Pitts said. “We have around 17 contestants, which is about where we were before, but we are hoping to expand, still. We have some new and past contestants, so we know word is getting out. Importantly, we want kids up there smiling and dancing and playing and doing what they love. We are all for it and ready to go again, because the kids are having a great time and we want to support them.”

The pageant will be held at the 14th Street Community Center on February 19. Deadline for submission is February 12.

Registration will be held between 11:30 and 12:30 a.m. with the pageant starting at 1 p.m.

Basic entry fee is $50 and this includes Age Division Overalls, Beauty, Outfit of Choice Supreme, and Division Supreme.

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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