Saluting the Good Samaritan Spirit
Congratulations to our 2012 Chapter of the Year, Florida’s Golden Triangle Sams
Most of you know that the Good Sam Club unites nearly 1,500 regional chapters across North America. Not only do chapters get together for RV campouts and state and provincial Samborees, they make meaningful contributions in their communities. Among them, a few truly inspiring chapters stand above the rest for the dedication and volunteer work of their members. In their honor the Good Sam Club has named a Chapter of the Year for each of the past 38 years.
This time around, eight Good Sam chapters impressed our panel with their public service and charitable donations. With so many worthy candidates, the judges decided to open the voting to the full Good Sam membership to decide which chapter best exemplifies the Good Samaritan spirit of giving back.
With the online votes tallied, we’re pleased to announce that central Florida’s Golden Triangle Sams chapter is our latest award winner. Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, the chapter brings together 62 members with all types of RVs, from motorhomes to travel trailers to fifth wheels.
Like all Good Sam chapters, the Golden Triangle Sams make the most of their RV outings with fun, food and fellowship, but their campouts aren’t purely social. During last year’s Good Sam Cleanup Days, for example, members enjoyed each other’s company while picking up trash beside the road leading to Lake Ocklawaha RV Park.
Seated in folding camp chairs, members not only catch up on conversation, they stuff bears and tie blankets for the kids at Boggy Creek, a Florida camp for medically challenged children. Each year the chapter also makes a financial contribution to Boggy Creek, notes chapter historian Sharon Himes, “but the check doesn’t begin to match the love that goes into each bear and blanket.”
Chapter members likewise collect aluminum cans during their monthly campouts. “It’s a dirty job,” admits Himes, but it not only keeps the cans out of landfills, it earns money for the many charities the chapter supports. In 2012, chapter members amassed more than a thousand dollars’ worth of aluminum, with the proceeds going to charities from Dogs for the Deaf to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Last year the Golden Triangle Sams also collected nonperishable food, clothing, household items and supplies for local schools and food banks, assembling more than 750 pounds of canned food and dry goods at the holidays alone. The pounds add up quickly with chapter families contributing at least one item for each foot of their RV— the longer the rig, the more items to contribute.
Beyond rounding up food, supplies and aluminum cans, the chapter raises money by hosting 50/50 raffles and selling meatball sandwiches for a profit at Florida Samborees. Last year the Golden Triangle Sams donated $1,600 from the proceeds to Florida Dog Guides for the Deaf, making the chapter the organization’s top contributor for the 14th year in a row.
Military servicemen and women are close to the hearts of chapter members. In 2012 they clipped manufacturer coupons totaling nearly $60,000 for domestic military families, contributed books valued at thousands of dollars to military veterans and gave hundreds of dollars’ worth of used mobile phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Chapter members also took part in the Wreaths Across America presentation at Florida National Cemetery, donating 17 memorial wreaths and placing them on veterans’ graves.
The Golden Triangle Sams make the rounds at Good Sam events, including all three Good Sam Rallies last year and four out-of-state Samborees. Taking an active roll at Florida’s 2012 Samborees, members donated door prizes, hosted the hospitality table, organized games and even acted as cheerleaders. This rah-rah attitude extends to the chapter’s spirited website, goldentrianglesams.com.
“Our combined efforts as a chapter have led us to support many worthwhile causes,” sums up Karl Raabe, president of the Golden Triangle Sams. “A volunteer from our chapter has always come forward to lead each project, and the support from the group ensues.”
The Good Sam Club applauds the Golden Triangle Sams and all the chapters that divide their time between having fun and doing good, including the seven Chapter of the Year runners-up:
• South Georgia Rivers Sams, Georgia
• Prairie State Sams, Illinois
• Good Sam Klamath Kampers, Oregon
• Queen City Sams, Saskatchewan
• Palmetto Sams, South Carolina
• Sam’s Dixie Travelers, Tennessee
• Squaw Peak Sams, Utah
If you haven’t joined a Good Sam chapter, you’re missing out on a valuable part of your membership.To find a group near you, visit GoodSamClub.com/chapters.