Dale Matthews (right), director of Clayton Area Ministries, considers bidding at the pantry's silent auction fundraiser.
CLAYTON -- Clayton Area Ministries celebrated its 30th anniversary this year with its second annual CAM SLAM, a fundraising event that helps the organization take care of Clayton’s needy families.
Thursday night at the Clayton Center, more than 100 of Clayton area business owners, elected officials and CAM volunteers came out for music, food, a silent auction and live auction to benefit the food pantry. On Friday, the fundraising continued with a golf tournament hosted by Pine Hollow Golf Course.
Last year, the event raised $20,000, enough to help CAM pay utility bills year-round for families who couldn’t afford electricity. Usually, CAM only assists with utility bills through the winter months, but last year they helped families pay them year round, said CAM director Dale Matthews.
Last year’s fundraiser also helped pay for a prosthetic leg for a local teen cancer victim, helped support a young handicapped leukemia victim, and helped fund a handicapped van for a local wheelchair-bound teen.
Matthews said the decision to start the annual fundraiser stemmed from demand on the organization. They’ve had to increase their hours from being open three days a week to being open five days a week.
“We’ve just had such a high volume of people coming in,” Matthews said.
The pantry serves about 150 families a month, amounting to 500 or more individuals. They provide a selection of canned and dry goods donated by area businesses, churches, civic organizations, individuals, and purchased from the N.C. Food Bank.
During the summer, the pantry gives away free fans to help folks out with the heat, and in the winter, they give away LP gas tanks and turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
For the 29 or so volunteers that keep the all-volunteer pantry afloat, CAM has become something of a family, said Katie Cotto, a volunteer who has helped translate Spanish at the ministry for the last two years.
“I just do it because I’ve been blessed and I want to help bless other people,” said volunteer Gina Raper.
Bea Feeney, who’s been volunteering with CAM for seven years, says she started her work with the organization because she heard a calling to give back.
“It was just the need to be involved in the community and helping people who are in need,” Feeney said.
For the first time this year, CAM will also have an opportunity for youth to get involved. Through a Clayton High School student’s senior project, the Can-Do kids will be volunteering at CAM, running a food drive, and working on season-themed service projects, like collecting hats, scarves and gloves to distribute in the winter.