Since 1975, the Good Sam Club has presented the prestigious Chapter of the Year award to show its appreciation for the public service and charitable work done by local chapters. Each January, nominations flow in from all corners of the continent to Good Sam’s panel of judges. This time around, one particularly inspiring group—the Utah Deer Sams—stood above the rest to claim the 2011 honor.
Chartered in 1985 with eight couples, the Utah Deer Sams chapter now comprises 44 members who golf together, go four-wheeling and gather around the campfire for storytelling and sing-alongs. The chapter clearly knows how to have a good time, but they’re a force to be reckoned with when it comes to community service and making a positive impact in the lives of others. Last year alone, the Deer Sams donated more than 14,000 community service hours and nearly $40,000 worth of charitable donations.
The chapter not only delivers toys to the police department, pull-tabs to the Ronald McDonald House and handmade items to hospitals and homeless shelters, it donates its time to Utah’s Special Olympics Rodeo and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Members contribute to Afghanistan Orphan Project, Family Support Centers, Shop with a Cop, United Way, Dogs for the Deaf, Reservations Bound, Builders without Borders, the Utah Food Coalition and a long list of other worthy causes.
Always going above and beyond, the Deer Sams can be counted on to make Utah Samborees and Good Sam Rallies a success. Last spring all 44 members got into the spirit of the Under the Big Top Samboree theme by dressing as circus clowns. They cooked meals, took charge of the cakewalk and managed the auction. At last summer’s Good Sam Rally in Redmond, Oregon, the chapter won first place in the Let’s Eat competition with member Phyllis Deuel’s Jell-O mousse recipe and earned the overall spirit award.
The Deer Sams pledge to leave their RV campsites in better condition than when they arrived and always pitch in on Good Sam Cleanup Days. Over the years, members have gathered to pick up city parks, tidy up roadsides and remove lakeside debris. During last year’s Cleanup Days, they spent the weekend at Wasatch Mountain State Park, clipping branches, clearing trails and doing carpentry work.
In honor of the Deer Sams’ boundless enthusiasm, dedication and plain old hard work, the chapter will receive a check for $500 from Good Sam, plus a plaque and patches recognizing the group as the club’s 2011 Chapter of the Year.
Two other admirable chapters—Florida’s Trail Blazing Sams and Oregon’s Santiam Sams—were singled out by the judges for honorable mentions. The Trail Blazing Sams formed in 1977 in the Tampa Bay area and last year supported Florida’s Samborees, participated in Good Sam Cleanup Days and the Adopt-a-Road program, donated handcrafted items to hospices and nursing homes and contributed time and money to more than a dozen charities. Launched in 1988, the Willamette Valley’s Santiam Sams spent 2011 contributing to Oregon-based Dogs for the Deaf and the American Cancer Society’s Camp Ukandu, sponsoring the Veterans Fund, making quilts for Project Linus and participating in the Adopt-a-Park and Adopt-a-Highway programs along with many other philanthropic pursuits.
To find out how you can make a difference and have fun doing it as a member of a Good Sam chapter, visit GoodSamClub.com/chapters. Who knows? Your local group may wind up being named Good Sam’s Chapter of the Year.