Miss Annie's block party encourages youngsters to care about education

September 1, 2009 

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Muddy Creek Road resident Annie Snider stands by a collage of photos from the "Back 2 School Jam" she organized at her home for children in her neighborhood on Hilton Head Island.

SARAH WELLIVER

Muddy Creek Road has never been on the travel brochures for Hilton Head Island.

Police reports, maybe.

So why were neighborhood children and parents dancing, eating hot dogs and hamburgers, and laughing through an all-American watermelon-eating contest two Saturdays ago?

They were celebrating the start of a new school year.

Annie Snider invited them to her yard, putting flyers up and down Muddy Creek and Bryant roads. They were written in English on one side and Spanish on the other so nobody would feel left out.

"We wanted to show the kids that someone in the neighborhood cares," said the bubbly retired grandmother whose own mother passed away when she was 2.

Irvin Campbell, president of the Spanish Wells-Jonesville Property Owners' Association, said, "Sometimes that's all these kids need -- someone's attention."

Snider lives in a family compound on Snider Way, off of Muddy Creek Road.

Hargray, where her husband, Edward, worked for 25 years, donated crushed ice the kids used in an ice fight.

Campbell's association and the Oakview Property Owners' Association contributed food. The Daufuskie Island Foundation gave money. Solomon and Della Campbell, up the street at Spanish Wells Seafood & Produce, donated the watermelons.

And when the lady the kids call "Miss Annie" got a chance, she talked about school.

"Whatever you get in your head, nobody can get it out," she said.

"Go to the school and learn. Don't go to dress up looking pretty. Go to learn. Remember that you represent that school. You also represent your parents and your home."

Muddy Creek Road is far from what it used to be. It's paved. It has sidewalks and drainage. The homes now have public water and sewer service. An old nightclub is gone.

It took a lot of effort, both public and private, to make this happen, but it was worth it.

Muddy Creek has neat yards with orange trees loaded with green spheres that will ripen right after Christmas. It has beautiful oaks, some with conch shells circling their trunks. It has tangerine trees, pear trees, fig trees, brick homes and crowing roosters.

On the first Saturday morning of each month, a little army of children cleans the streets to learn the value of giving back to the community. They're organized by Irvin Campbell's family business, Gullah Heritage Trail Tours.

Muddy Creek still won't make a travel brochure. But its children know they have a lot to be proud of.

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