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Published Tue, Dec 25, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Fri, Dec 21, 2012 05:19 PM

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher ensures Clayton needy have Christmas turkeys

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- Correspondent

CLAYTON -- Area families in need will have a traditional holiday meal this Christmas thanks to the efforts of two local men.

Chris Archer, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Barry Woodard, a partner with HomeTowne Realty, recently reached out to Butterball, LLC and secured a donation of more than three dozen turkeys for Clayton Area Ministries.

Dale Matthews, CAM’s director, received the 40 turkeys Dec. 18. She said the items would go quickly and her staff was busy contacting clients from their database of needy families. All were expected to be distributed in time for Christmas.

Archer explained he chose CAM to receive the food because they are a solid organization who strives to meet the needs of local families.

“They already have identified the families,” he said. “I never realized how many people needed help until I started working with CAM. I can’t really take credit for this donation. I’m just the middle man who knew a good cause to give it to.”

Stephanie Llorente, a spokesperson for Butterball, noted the company donates about 1,500 turkeys during the holiday season to Triangle area organizations and military bases. Headquartered in Garner, she said many of their employees are Clayton residents.

“We are so pleased to be able to feed families throughout the holidays,” said Llorente. “It’s really important to us to take part in the communities where our employees live and work.”

It’s the second time this holiday season that Archer and Woodard assisted CAM with donations. During Thanksgiving, they contributed 32 turkeys. This is just the first step in Archer’s plan to establish a foundation to benefit Clayton area families during the holiday season.

“Everybody forgets that a big part of the Christmas tradition is eating,” Archer said. “It’s not just presents.”

CAM also assisted Archer in locating four local families to sponsor for Christmas. Using $2,500 raised from a barbeque fundraiser held earlier this month, Archer outfitted each one with new clothing, shoes and gifts. His parents, Ron and Donna Archer, helped him shop and wrap presents.

“I told the parents that I didn’t want anyone to know where the gifts came from,” said Archer. “I want the kids to think Santa dropped it off and let the parents get the credit and reward.”

Next year, Archer hopes to increase his efforts in assisting those in need. For now, he’s ready to enjoy the holiday season with his own family until Feb. 13 when he joins his team in Port Charlotte, Fla. to begin spring training.

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