EASLEY — The second annual Clusters for Kids oyster roast to benefit the Friends of Pickens County Guardian ad Litem Program is set to go down this Saturday at Arran Farm.
Event coordinator Crystal Williams, who is donating her services to the cause, said the turnout last year for the roast was between 400 and 500 people. The event is from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Arran Farm, 820 Lenhardt Road in Easley.
“This year, a week before the event, we’re already where we ended at last year as far as commitments,” said Williams.
Tammy Aiken Clark, chair of the Friends of Pickens County Guardian ad Litem board, has hopes that the oyster roast will develop into the program’s main fundraiser of the year.
“We raised $18,000 last year (at the oyster roast) and that covered the $17,000 we spent at Belk and Rack Room Shoes in June, July, and August. This year, that number increased to $20,000,” said Clark.
Clark admitted there are some difficulties in raising money for children who need help. Unlike the efforts of some other organizations that raise money through fundraisers, it’s not always as easy for groups like theirs.
“The difference is people want to close their eyes to these children, they blame the parent. They see that child’s mother is a drug addict, or that child’s mother is a prostitute — whatever the case may be,” she said. “The mentality is that the child will go down the same path. But if you don’t step in there and do something about it, that child’s going to be working in your convenience stores or restaurants or in manufacturing, if they’re lucky, where if you had stepped in there and done something, they could be your doctor or your lawyer or the scientist who cures cancer.”
One of the main Friends program is Heart and Soles where Friends provides new clothes and shoes for children to wear back to school. This year, more than 200 children took part.
“I personally spent time with a little girl, about 11 or 13-years-old, where this was the first time she had ever had new clothes,” said Clark. “She said to me, and I’ll never forget this, ‘I’m gonna be stylin’ this year, I’m gonna make new friends.’ What that tells me is that she’d been bullied. Never had any new clothes. Thirteen years old.”
Clark also stated that it is important to note the distinction in what Friends do.
“We were incorporated in 2002 to help the volunteers (of the ad litem program). We’re not the Guardians ad Litem and we’re not DSS. We’re friends of the guardians,” she said. “Our objective is to help the Guardian program itself. They’re a state run program and they have a budget like any other state program. These people give their time, freely. We support them in any way we can.”
As of the June numbers, there were 176 children from Pickens County in foster care and only 41 were in placement in Pickens County, Clark said.
“The rest had to be placed in other parts of the state. That’s awful. And that’s why there’s such a need for foster families here in Pickens County,” she added.
All proceeds from Saturday’s event will go directly to support Friends of Pickens County Guardian ad Litem program.
The evening includes an oyster roast, Southern low-country buffet, beverages, music, corn hole competitions and more. The highlight of the evening is a silent auction, with more than 100 items to bid on including rounds of golf at some of the Upstate’s best courses, sports memorabilia, jewelry, white water rafting, lunch with Coach Danny Ford, a catered dinner for 30 with two servers, gifts from local merchants and more.
Tickets are $50 individually and $90 per couple. Visit www.friendspcgal.org to buy tickets, buy tickets from a board member or locally at Appalachian Ale House, Michael’s on Main, Pickens Chamber of Commerce, Pickens County Guardian ad Litem, Town & Country Florist, Nalley’s Furniture, Upstate School Spirits, Jerry Cain Auto and Southern Charm.
Call 864-506-0737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.