To recognize the exemplary efforts of Good Sam Club Chapters, each year the Club selects one outstanding chapter as our Chapter of the Year. At the end of 2010, chapter entries began pouring into our offices. A panel reviewed all of the entries, and have just selected this year’s winner—the South Georgia Rivers Sams from Valdosta, Georgia.
The seventeen member rigs of the South Georgia Rivers Sams had a busy year, to say the least. And no matter what their activity was, they always seemed to be undertaking at least one project—and certainly having fun while doing it!
Under the leadership of president, Jerry DeLoach, the chapter started the year by donating to Valdosta’s Partnership Cancer Fund, an organization which provides financial assistance to community members who are being treated for cancer. In July, for the second year in a row, the South Georgia Rivers Sams sponsored a blood drive for two local youngsters battling leukemia. Chapter members not only donated blood themselves—they recruited other people in the community to donate. During the blood drive, members manned the registration desk, and served snacks and drinks. They successfully found 104 donors, who provided 80 pints of blood.
The next month, the chapter traveled to General Coffee State Park, not just for a group campout, but also to take on a major cleanup project of the facility. They cleaned and laid pine straw throughout the park, and weeded the gardens, leaving a much more pristine area for many park visitors to enjoy. And they haven’t stopped—in May of this year, they’ve got another outing planned to Reed Bingham State Park, where they’ll also be cleaning up!
In September, the chapter hosted a hot dog lunch at the Georgia State Samboree in Perry. Dressed as pirates, the group grilled and served 1,000 hot dogs for Samboree guests. They asked for donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The chapter had a personal stake in this organization because the grandson of one of their members, Jordan Wilson, had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and is undergoing a three-year treatment plan. Through their efforts, more than $2,000 at the Samboree. They even provided their leftover hot dogs to two Perry organizations, the Perry Volunteer Outreach Program and the Perry Women’s Homeless Shelter.
By the end of the year, the chapter decided to share the holidays by taking care of a 12 year old girl whose mother was battling cancer. All of the chapter members brought Christmas gifts to be delivered to the family.
As well as providing for those less fortunate, the South Georgia River Sams also managed to enjoy some fun events as well. A highlight of the year was their July campout, which was dedicated to the members’ grandchildren. Twenty two adults, fourteen adult children, and fourteen grandchildren spent the weekend with programs totally geared to the kids. They made crafts, played miniature golf, swam, learned how to play bingo with the older folks, roasted hot dogs and s’mores, and ended the weekend with a talent show. It was a great way to show the younger generation the fun and benefits associated with camping.
Jerry DeLoach, the Chapter President, summed up the South Georgia Rivers Sams’ philosophy with the following: “I appreciate the love we show to one another; this is the true spirit of a club, and the caring we have for those in need.”
Two other chapters were selected for Honorable Mention Awards in this year’s contest:
The Trail Blazing Sams from Tampa, Florida spent 8,557 volunteer hours during 2010. They cleaned up US 301, and also Hillsborough County Upper Tampa Bay Park. They also raised and donated $9,577 in cash, goods and services to many worthwhile organizations, including Florida Guide Dogs for the Deaf, Hospice of Florida, the Children’s Home Society of Florida, and Camp Boggy Creek, a Hole in the Wall camp in Eustis, among others. The group provided lap robes to the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, 50 Easter baskets for foster children, baby blankets and hats to a Women’s Center, and 38 pounds of tab tops to the Shriners’ Hospital for Children, among other charity projects.
A previous winner of the Chapter of the Year award, The Utah Deer Sams continued their efforts and volunteered 14,139 hours last year, with 100% participation from their 20 members. They cleaned up two highways—the road leading to Lincoln Beach Park, and Stringtown Road, which links Midway to Provo Canyon. When the Mayor of Provo City asked for help cleaning up around Utah Lake, the Utah Deer Sams went to work, picking up many bags of trash to make the area more desirable. They donate annually to Dogs for the Deaf, along with several other charities. One of their more recent accomplishments was at Christmas when they sponsored four underprivileged children to “Shop With a Cop”. The kids got to ride in a police motorcade with lights flashing and sirens blaring, have breakfast with an officer, and then receive $100 to shop.
What Are Chapters?
You may not be aware that the Good Sam Club has nearly 1,700 individual local Good Sam chapters—groups of ten or so rigs who like to get together for campouts, meetings, potlucks, and RV outings. However, many of our chapters also undertake extremely worthwhile projects, helping their local communities, aiding those who are less fortunate, and enhancing the lives of fellow RVers.
Finding a Chapter
Each state and province has a volunteer Good Sam Club Director, who has the information regarding the local activities of chapters within your state or province.
One of the most important aspects of RVing is to share information with fellow RVers — so that you and others can learn from past experiences and belonging to a local chapter is the best way to share those experiences with people you enjoy.
You too can enjoy the fun and fellowship of camping and traveling with fellow members, as well as participating in some very worthwhile projects for your community. Learn more about Good Sam Club Chapters.