Crawfish boil

(Carmen Rodgers) Resource development coordinator at The Learning Tree, Stephanie Weldon, prepared crawfish boil takeout plates Saturday at city hall.

Tallassee loves a crawfish boil, especially one that raises funds and awareness for a worthy cause.

With concerns over the COVID-19 in mind, The Learning Tree held a drive-thru crawfish boil to raise funding for the nonprofit organization.

"We sold almost 200 pounds of crawfish," resource development coordinator Stephanie Weldon said. "We raised right at $4,000, which was amazing."

According to Weldon, the organization was unable to hold the annual Boots and Bowties fundraiser and the crawfish boil helped with needed funding.

The Learning Tree covers three regions across Alabama based in Jacksonville, Mobile and Tallassee.

"As a whole, we (collectively) raised $10,000," Weldon said of the three regional locations.

With over 100 plates sold, it took several volunteers to pull off the crawfish boil.

"Harry Scroggins, he took care of it and he did not ask for anything," Weldon said.

Scroggins, along with Weldon's husband Dallas and her brother Corey, cooked the mudbugs.

Several sponsors also helped raise funding for the nonprofit.

"I want to thank our sponsors, Neptune Technology Group, Berney Office Solutions, Turrenne Pharm MedCo, Alan Taunton and Company, Dr. and Mrs. John Caldwell, Patterson and Duke, Community Hospital, and Dr. and Mr. Bruise Hill," Weldon said.

Because The Learning Tree is a nonprofit organization, it relies heavily on fundraisers such as this to maintain the services offered there.

"It means everything,” Weldon said. “We do receive grant money but it will help us give students gifts for their birthday, iPads so that they can continue their lessons, and it will help with school supplies. It helps with decorations that help their room feel more like home. We do get grant funding but that grant funding just doesn't cover everything, especially things like birthday gifts."

Weldon said, once again, the community showed The Learning Tree tremendous support and for that she is thankful.

"I want to thank the community," she said. "We are blessed to be in this community. During this pandemic, I know times are tough for everybody and the community still came out and bought plates, sponsored and showed us that do care about these kids."

Founded in 1983, The Learning Tree is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational and residential services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, including autism.

Today, The Learning Tree serves more than 600 children and families each year from more than 30 counties across Alabama. The majority of the children, ages 2 ½ to 21, have significant language and communication difficulties as well as challenging behaviors.

If you would like to donate to The Learning Tree or purchase a crawfish boil T-shirt while supplies last, contact Weldon at 334-415-9372 or sweldon@learning-tree.org.