Fourth annual dinner, auction to support Bellamy project
By Elisabeth Strillacci|
At 11 years old, Matthew Bellamy was shot accidentally and killed at a friend’s home in 2010. His friend had found an unsecured family gun and Matthew was taken much too early from his parents, Chip and Mylissa Bellamy.
Determined to keep other families from enduring the same tragedy, Chip and Mylissa started the Matthew Bellamy project, which provides gun locks free of charge to anyone who requests one. To support the project, Mylissa said four years ago they held their first dinner and silent auction.
On Thursday, Jan. 28, the group will hold its fourth annual dinner, and Mylissa said the funds they have raised have not only allowed them to continue to provide the gun locks, but with the funds raised from last year’s event, they have begun to offer two gun safety classes once a month.
“We offer a kid’s gun safety class, plus a class for women only that not only teaches gun safety, but helps determine what weapon would best suite them,” she said. “Those classes are as a direct result of the increased donations and participation from last year.”
Owners of The Shack in Cherry Grove have supplied the food every year, which includes chicken bog, green beans, corn bread and tea for $8. Take-out is also available. Dinner is offered from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Numerous local businesses have donated items for the silent auction, and the items range in value from less than $50 to several hundred, and bidding will close at 7 p.m. Winners will be announced around 7:30 p.m., said Mylissa.
She and Chip, who were born here, said they wanted from the start to create an event that involved the local community, which was so supportive when Matthew died and which is like family.
“It’s been very healing for us,” she said. “You take the worst thing that two parents can go through and make something positive out of it, that’s a gift.”
Noting that they have received some criticism from anti-gun groups who would prefer they take a stand against gun ownership, Mylissa said they have never wanted to make it about owning or not owning guns, but about responsible ownership.
“Our son’s death was an accident that could have and should have been prevented,” say the couple on the Matthew Bellamy project’s web page. “We now believe that through his death, he will touch and change countless lives. Matthew was a truly happy person and left a lasting impression on all who knew him.”
The dinner and auction will be held in the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church on Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach. Tickets will be available at the door.