Scholarship inspires service

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 1, 2015

RED CARPET BOWL: Warren Central players celebrate with the Red Carpet Bowl trophy after beating Terry 38-6 in 2014. It was WC’s first Red Carpet Bowl win since 2008.

RED CARPET BOWL: Warren Central players celebrate with the Red Carpet Bowl trophy after beating Terry 38-6 in 2014. It was WC’s first Red Carpet Bowl win since 2008.

Red Carpet Bowl Committee chairman Gary Anderton never thought much about the service organization he now leads until about six years ago.

Anderton was at the Warren Central High School athletic banquet when it was announced that his daughter had won a Red Carpet Bowl scholarship.

“I was shocked. I knew some people on the Red Carpet Bowl Committee. I didn’t even know Bailey had applied for the scholarship,” Anderton told members of Port City Kiwanis during their breakfast meeting this week. “Being a dad who’s about ready to pay for college tuition for four years at Mississippi College, I was happy that someone was pitching in and helping.”

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During the rest of the banquet, Anderton couldn’t stop thinking about how grateful he and his family were that an organization like the Red Carpet Bowl Committee existed. The longer he thought, the more his mind kept coming back to service and self.

“It occurred to me that at that point in time having lived, grown up and raised my family in this community, how much Vicksburg had done for me. What had I done for Vicksburg? Well, I owe things to my family because I love them,” Anderton said.

“I owe things to my workplace because they give me a check every two weeks. I owe things to my church because that’s who I am as a Christian. I owe things to my community. What had I done for them? I came up with not a lot.”

Soon after the banquet, Anderton called a Red Carpet Bowl Committee member and asked how he could participate. They invited him to an upcoming meeting.

“They signed me up and the next week we were talking about what committees I would be on and what events we were going to do,” he said.

His feeling of being tied to the community has kept him actively involved in the planning committee for the annual football game and basketball tournament.

“A sense of community is what makes this city special,” Anderton said.

The Red Carpet Bowl was first established to benefit Leo Puckett, a Jett High School football player who was paralyzed during a game in 1953.

“A group of community leaders said they needed to do something to help the family,” Anderton said. “That morphed into what we do today.”

After Puckett died, the mission shifted to helping the community. Today, the RCB uses proceeds for scholarships for seniors at all four of Warren County’s high schools. Scholarships are $750, Anderton said.

“It does make an impact,” he said.

The 2015 Red Carpet Bowl is scheduled for Aug. 21 at Warren Central. Harrison Central and Vicksburg High will play the opening game at 6 p.m., followed by Warren Central vs. Wayne County at 8:30.

“Our focus is first of all to showcase the students of this community, showcase Vicksburg and most importantly provide scholarship money,” Anderton said.

Ticket are $10 in advance or $12 at the gate.

“Be there. Come and show up and enjoy the games. This is an important part of the fabric of this community,” Anderton said.