Country star aids B&G Club with appearance at fundraiser

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published October 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 7, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
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Hannah Keller

Emmy Rogers, director of development for the Boys & Girls Club of Saline County, left, and Jasen Kelly, chief professional officer of the club, work on the seating arrangements for the 35th annual fall fundraiser, the Night to be Great dinner, for the club. The dinner will feature Justin Moore, country star and Benton resident, who will perform at the event Tuesday night at the Benton Event Center.

BENTON — One of the hottest stars in country music will perform and chat with the audience at the Night to be Great fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Saline County on Friday night in Benton.

Poyen native and Benton resident Justin Moore, whose Off the Beaten Path debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart last week and No. 2 on the magazine’s top 200 list of all music genres, will appear and perform for the sold-out dinner at the Benton Event Center.

“Through some mutual friends, we asked if he could be a part of the event,” said Jasen Kelly, chief professional officer at the Boys & Girls Club. “When we asked him what he wanted to do, he said, ‘Whatever your guys want me to do.’ He’s been great to work with.”

Kelly said Moore will bring his guitar and sing a few songs for those attending the dinner, then have a question-and-answer session with the audience, hosted by country-radio personality Bob Robbins.

“He seems a nice, regular guy that’s proud of his Saline County roots,” Kelly said.

Moore has also contributed several items for the silent auction, which is another big part of the fundraising going on that night.

“He has offered two tickets and backstage passes for any of his concerts anywhere in the country, but his latest tour includes a night in Little Rock,” said Emmy Rogers, director of development for the Boys & Girls Club. “He has also signed a guitar and a hat that will be up for auction.”

Other auction items include a hunting trip to a lodge in Tull; a fishing trip; and a Hot Springs getaway package at the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa, including tickets to Garvan Woodland Gardens. Other items will include jewelry, a football autographed by this year’s University of Arkansas Razorbacks and a special item that would be a unique gift for someone.

“There is a birthday party at the Benton Fire Department,” Rogers said. “You can’t buy that; it’s not for sale, but the department offered that to us as an auction item.”

The biggest potential for fundraising for the club on the night of the event is a pledge appeal that will be held during the program.

“We’re very excited about the pledge drive that night,” Rogers said. “We have shot pictures and videos of some of the kids who come to the club. Some of them are talking about what the Boys & Girls Club means for them, and some of it is action of the children playing.”

The video will be shown for the first time at the event, using the two large video screens set in the walls of the great hall at the event center. Those in attendance will be asked to fill out pledge cards afterward, but anyone can contribute via phone.

“Anyone who wants to can text the word ‘Great’ to 91011 and make a pledge,” Kelly said. “Pledges can be made up until noon Friday. It is a chance for the residents of Saline County to help, even if they are not at the event.”

Rogers said the club is the only one in Arkansas using the text-pledge campaign.

Kelly said organizers hope to raise $35,000 at the event. Last year, the event raised almost $20,000. That dinner featured two alligator hunters from the Louisiana Delta, “Trapper” Joe LaFont and his stepson, “Trigger” Tommy Chauvin, from the History Channel reality show Swamp People.

The increased goal not only reflects the popularity of the hometown-celebrity Moore, but also the location.

“We have been able to double the table sales at the Benton Event Center,” Kelly said. “We will be the first community event in the new center, following the [Saline County] Gun & Knife Show.

The funds will be used for the club’s educational programs and for educational technology. There are a lot of educational programs available at the club. One of the most popular is the Power Hour, when children attending the club can do their homework with the help of tutors.

Finally, two awards will be presented by the club during the event. The first is the Champion of Youth Award, presented to a member of the community who, as Kelly says, “has gone above and beyond in their service to children in the community.”

The second presentation is the Helping Help Award, given to a club staff member for service to the club’s young members.

The Boys & Girls Clubs in the region open their doors to children, ages 6 to 18, after school and in the summers for activities in recreation, education, peer leadership, technology, substance prevention, physical fitness and the arts. For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Saline County, call (501) 315-8100.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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