The Westminster-based Bucs Club has just one goal — to help others. But, at this time of year, their entire focus of the club turns to local children.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the club will hold their annual Bull, Oyster and Shrimp Feast to raise money for their Kids Campaign. From 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. that evening the band Bootleg will play classic rock and country music while those who attend enjoy pit beef, pit ham, pit turkey, raw oysters, fried oysters, steamed shrimp, oyster stew, hot and cold buffet items, desserts, draft beer, soda, water and coffee.
“Last year’s event was a great success with approximately four hundred in attendance,” said Greg Hammond, Kids Campaign committee member. “The live band and their music selection created a terrifically festive atmosphere. I had never seen the dance floor so full all evening long. That combined with the delicious food prompted many to vow to return again this year.”
Fellow member, Jim Roark, chairman of the Kids Campaign Committee agreed.
“It's simply great food, great music and a great time for a great cause,” said Roark. “We will also be collecting nonperishable food items for Hampstead's Little Free Pantry. And we will begin [filling] a Care Box for our Deployed Military Personnel for Christmas, so anything you could donate would be fantastic!”
Roark said the club started their Kids Campaign in 2016 to help kids in difficult situations “with food, clothing, everyday essential needs and to hopefully provide smiles to kids that don’t regularly have a reason to smile,” he said. “One hundred percent of all profits will go to needy children in our community.”
Club president, Bob Ellers, a 23-year member, said some of the nonprofits benefiting in the past include Carroll County Public School Pantries, the Hampstead Little Free Panty, the Church of the Brethren Giving Tree, Hampstead’s Shop with a Cop, and Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore.
The club, established for men in 1960, moved from Owings Mills to Westminster in the 1970s. Ellers said after the move, their number one charity became the Carroll County Arc.
“We donate to many of the Arc’s events, but what we love to do the most is the picnic we hold every year for their clients,” Ellers said. “We provide a snack of cookies and juice in the morning, a full picnic lunch with hamburgers, hot dogs French fries, and soda at noon, and we always provide entertainment. We have had magicians, bingo, sing-a- longs, McGruff the crime dog, a mobile petting zoo and one year a Baltimore County Police helicopter flew in and landed. The clients look forward to this picnic so very much.”
Roark spoke of their donations to the CCPS Food Pantries.
“We cannot supply the pantries with any food, only personal hygiene products and household goods. This year we purchased over 1,700 individual items,” he said. “We took them back to our club, broke everything down into six piles for the six most-used food pantries and re-boxed everything. The next morning, we loaded up four large SUVs and went to [the] CCPS Central Office. One by one, the Pupil Personnel Workers for these six schools pulled into the parking lot and we transferred [the boxes] from our vehicle to theirs.”
Ellers said the club plans to feed at least six needy local Carroll County families at Thanksgiving in November, and they will fill the wish lists of 14 or more local children at Christmas as well. Then Roark shared the story of the wish lists they filled in 2017.
“Last year, when we started, we only had wish lists for six [children]. We were disappointed that we didn't have more,” he said. “But, especially around Christmas, things happen. My friends, Steve and Leah Rogers, who own Outlaw BBQ, approached us about a family they had helped at Thanksgiving. It was a heartbreaking story of a couple in their late 60s whose daughter had just died. Suddenly they [were raising] six grandchildren and struggling to make ends meet.”
Roark said they asked for a list from the grandmother, someone who had never asked for help in her life. He said his heart broke when he saw what one child had written: “All I want is my Mom.”
The club went all out, filling every need on the list. Roark said the impact etched on this grandmother’s face overwhelmed club members.
“The lesson of helping others in need was definitely learned that night by members of the club,” Roark said. “Strong, tough men I thought were incapable of tears shed them that night, and they are so eager to pitch in [again] at any opportunity.”
Last Christmas, the club ended up filling the wish lists of 14 kids. Roark shared the reaction of one mom.
“Her words were, ‘Tomorrow morning, when the kids open their presents, I'll say they were from Santa, but some day when they are old enough to understand, I will tell them how the Bucs Club made this happen.’ Yeah, a few tears [were shed] after that, too,” Roark said.
With 125 active members plus 75 life members, Roark said there is a waiting list of people hoping to join the club. Ellers indicated that this may be because of the impact they make on the community.
“Last year we raised approximately $10,000 dollars [at this event],” Ellers said, noting that every penny was given away. “Nothing can compare to helping someone in need by giving of yourself and your time. I had no idea of the multitude of children and their families in Carroll County that so desperately need a helping hand, not only during the holidays but every day — until we started the Bucs Club Kids Campaign.”
Tickets for this event cost $40. You must be at least 21 years of age to attend.
The desire to help those in need is a driving force behind our campaign,” Hammond said. “Knowing that our efforts and the support we receive from those in attendance help to improve the lives of children less fortunate is what makes this event so important.”
For tickets and more information, contact Jim Roark at 410-375-8998 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.