For the past 14 years a group of seven sisters, along with two of their life-long friends, have been helping the citizens of the surrounding area. Known as Sisters with a Purpose, or SWAP, they originally focused on helping out one male and one female graduating senior but the focus has expanded exponentially over the years.
Diana Halstied, founder of SWAP, explained that she first was inspired to help students because of her own experience going off to college.
“There were seven of us,” Halstied said. “I was the fourth kid to leave, but there were still three under me, so you can’t just take the iron. You can’t take the towels or the sheets because the family has still got to use them.”
To help the two seniors start their college life, they each received a bag filled with the different items they would need, like towels or sheets. They also received a special dinner along with their parents.
While two high school seniors are still honored and receive a bag of essentials to this day, the special dinner has grown into a banquet with guest speakers and numerous attendees.
“We thought so many of them don’t get to come to those kind of banquets,” Halstied said. “You have to either be a scholar or an athlete, but if you’re not you don’t get to go.”
At their 2018 banquet, they invited all the African American and biracial seniors from Ardmore, Dickson, Lone Grove, Marietta, Plainview and Springer. Fifty-five students along with their parents attended.
Their newest charitable outing is Shop with SWAP where the group takes children Christmas shopping. Halstied said they help out those who don’t qualify for other Christmas gift events.
“It was always a struggle because I was a single parent,” Halstied said. “But my kids never got to do Shop with a Cop because I made too much money. So we want to help those kids with a single parent, or those who are just barely struggling because they don’t get to do anything.”
This year, the group took four children Christmas shopping. One was a high school student who lives with her grandmother. The other three children’s father was killed in a car accident last year.
“We told them, ‘get what you want and what you need,’” Violet Halstied said.
While the younger children did pick out toys, the high schooler picked primarily clothes.
SWAP also gives a full Thanksgiving meal to two families every year along with  a bean dinner to senior citizens early in December. The beans come with peach cobbler, cornbread, and onion. This year they delivered 130 meals.