Rocky Fork Enterprise

Blacklick first-grader helps sea turtles, wins trip to Myrtle Beach

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A campaign to help sea turtles won Blacklick Elementary School first-grader Aubrey Powell a trip to Myrtle Beach.

The 7-year-old learned she won the trip during an end-of-school assembly May 29 with a video straight from the beach.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau started a program called Making Waves, which recognizes children for doing great things in their communities.

Aubrey, daughter of Mandy and Torrance Powell, was chosen because of her passion for helping endangered animals, specifically sea turtles in South Carolina.

"I was surprised," Aubrey said. "I like animals -- from snakes to bugs."

She retold to classmates her February bake-sale experience, earning $555.09 for sea turtles.

"Then I watched a video from South Carolina's Myrtle Beach," she said. "I got a beach towel, three tickets to Myrtle Beach; then I got my picture taken and went back to class. Then I went back out and got a special (sea turtle) necklace from my grandma. Everyone said congrats to me."

Aubrey also was given a sea-turtle stuffed animal as a prelude to her June 22 trip that will include a day of helping to spot sea-turtle nests on the coastline at the Myrtle Beach State Park and getting face to face with Gabby the sea turtle at Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach.

Mandy Powell said she read Aubrey a bedtime story from the Charlie and Lola book series in November.

"When they talked about sea turtles and people harming sea turtles, she was distraught," Powell said. "The next day, she said we were going to have a bake sale and save the sea turtles. She's tenacious."

They had a two-part bake sale that included 50 dozen cookies made by Aubrey and her mother, as well as 100 sea-turtle cupcakes donated by a friend.

"We reached out to friends with social media, and you could buy cookies that we delivered," Mandy Powell said. "Some people just made a donation."

Powell said they also sold the baked goods through the YMCA after-school snack shack on a Friday afternoon.

"There were days when the kids didn't have school," she said. "We baked on Feb. 13 and that whole weekend. It was a seven-day period we were baking."

Powell said it was a chance connection on social media that connected Aubrey with the Making Waves campaign.

"I'm bubbling over with pride," Powell said. "It has been amazing to watch her. Even though she's only 7, she had her hand in it every step of way. She helped with delivery and baking the cookies. She has been very involved in the learning experience."

Stretching from Little River to Pawleys Island and comprising 12 communities, the Myrtle Beach area is home to 60 miles of sandy beaches, golf and an assortment of entertainment and family attractions.

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