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Social Responsibility

Never Miss a Chance to Dance: Inside the Sandbox Prom

boy and girl enter sandbox prom in formal attire
All of the guests receive the rock-star treatment: hair, make-up, a gown or tux and a police escort. The smiles say it all.

Remember when you were a little kid playing in the sandbox?

The sand was soft to the touch as you dug your hands down deep, only to lift them up and feel the sand flow gently through your fingers. The sandbox is a place for fun, and a great memory of childhood.

That is exactly what The Sandbox, a nonprofit in Charlotte, North Carolina, aims to do – create lifelong happy memories for families facing life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, rare or terminal illness. And in 2019, The Sandbox received the help of some special Erie Insurance agents and employees.

What is The Sandbox?

Since its creation in 2010, The Sandbox has helped more than 5,000 families. The organization works with others in the community to meet the practical, social and emotional needs of the families during those difficult times. Their continuum of care model, called the CARRE (Caring About Real Relationships Empathetically) program, is the umbrella under which all support is offered.

The Sandbox is there to walk alongside families who face the realities of having a child with a diagnosis. This can mean helping with basic needs, arranging special days to get a break from the rigors of their treatment or even assisting with the emotional transition in the grief and bereavement process.

Never Miss a Chance to Dance

In 2011, a social worker at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, asked Executive Director Mara Campolungo if The Sandbox could host a dance for patients who were admitted at the time and would be missing their own school prom.

And so, An Evening of BelievingSM Prom was born.

This red-carpet gala, complete with limos, makeovers and more has become The Sandbox’s signature event. And it’s all done with no cost to the families.

The Evening of BelievingSM Prom gives attendees and guests of all ages a chance to dance the night away, smiling ear to ear. It’s a night to focus on fun instead of the battle they face every day.

“The purpose of the prom is to force the diagnosis to the back seat,” Campolungo said. “It helps our families create wonderful memories with a night of fun, food, fellowship and family.”

prom king is crowned and surrounded by other court at sandbox prom
The prom shares traditions with other proms, such as a ceremony to crown the kings and queens.

How ERIE Helps

In 2019, the Erie Insurance Charlotte Branch helped cover a portion of the cost for prom guests, with a $5,000 Giving Grant through ERIE's Giving Network to help pay for tuxedos.

Erie Insurance agent Beth McDuffie, of the Mark McDuffie Insurance Agency in Charlotte, volunteered as a "go-getter" to help with the night’s events.

“The prom was such an amazing night,” McDuffie said. “To see the children and their families step out of limo dressed in beautiful gowns and tuxedos, walking the red carpet, the crowd cheering... It was so touching. It was a night all about them.”

At ERIE, our employees and agents realize service means more than just handing over a check – it means rolling up our sleeves and getting the work done for the communities in which we serve.

The Giving Grants at Erie Insurance help our field offices fund causes they care about across ERIE’s footprint – 12 states and the District of Columbia.

Find out more about ERIE’s longstanding commitment to our local communities by visiting our Giving Network page or following #ERIEforgood.

When a life-threatening illness hits a family, it’s all-consuming. See how The Sandbox is helping families create positive memories that last a lifetime, thanks to a little help from ERIE. /blog/the-sandbox Erie Insurance https://www.erieinsurance.com/-/media/images/erieinsurance/erieinsurancelogo.png

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