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Socks for Heroes wants to celebrate veterans

An American Idol finalist is set to perform Saturday at the Brookhaven Veterans Appreciation Day celebration, sponsored by Socks for Heroes.

Skylar Laine, 23, finished in fifth place on the 11th season of the Fox Television talent show. She will sing at noon at the Brookhaven Exchange Club Park for the Socks for Heroes event.

The Brandon native is engaged to Christopher James of Wesson. She was asked by fellow church members to perform at the event.

“My fiancé is a part-time youth minister at Zion Hill Baptist Church and he’s also a lieutenant in the Army, so they decided to ask me to perform and I can’t wait,” Laine said. “I spend a lot of time in the Brookhaven and Wesson areas now. I love the area and I look forward to performing.”

She is currently in school and working toward dental school.

She wants to move her career forward in the medical field, but she still loves to perform in front of fans.

“I still have so many people that supported me during American Idol. They still follow me and when I have an opportunity like this, I love to do it. It’s fun to perform and meet people,” said Laine.

Following Laine on the stage is local musician Betsy Berryhill.

Berryhill is a sophomore at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. She’s a singer and songwriter who enjoys performing indie folk music.

“I really look forward to doing local events. I love performing in Brookhaven,” Berryhill said. “I will be playing my original music and I have a record coming out in a couple of weeks. So I’m excited to be playing during the school year and also helping out a good cause.”

Berryhill also performed on opening night of Brookstock at Recess 101 in July.

The event starts at 10 a.m. with a color guard presentation. Throughout the day, there will be several events such as a cake walk, hot dog eating contest, karaoke contest and a dance-off competition.

For the hot dog and karaoke contests, winners each get a $25 gift card to Wal-Mart.

Entry for the hot dog contest is $1. Participation in the karaoke contest is by donation.

Bingo games will be called throughout the day.

“We have a lot of nice bingo prizes that have been donated to us. We’ve got gas cards, gift baskets and Wal-Mart gift cards,” said Cathy Stroud of Wesson, the day’s organizer.

At 1 p.m. the Brookhaven Exchange Club will open rides in the park.

“They will be volunteering their time to help us out. They are a wonderful group of people,” Stroud said.

Stroud and her friend Tanya Jenkins, of Louisiana, started the Socks for Heroes organization four years ago.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness of veterans in need throughout the state.

“We’re asking everyone in the community to come out and enjoy a day at the park,” Stroud said.

Donations to the annual Socks for Heroes drive will also be accepted.

”We’re really pushing for socks and blankets this year. So please bring whatever you can to help out,” she said.

Veterans who show their military ID will eat for free.

Several non-profit organizations such as Brookhaven Animal Rescue League, Copiah County Rescue League and Reach Across America will be on hand, as well.

Several vendors will be selling arts, crafts and jewelry at booths set up in the park.

“I’m trying to fill the park up with things to do and see,” Stroud said. “We’re hoping everyone that sees a veteran that day will walk up to them and tell them thank you. We want every veteran to feel appreciated.”

For more information on Socks for Heroes, contact socksforheroes@yahoo.com.