CLAYTON — Eric Van Meter thought it was time for a little bit of a different look at McKinley’s Restaurant and Pub and he knew he was just a caretaker of the hundreds of dollar bills patrons had stapled up on the walls of the Clayton business over the past 15-plus years.
So the owner of McKinley’s offered the Clayton Little League the chance at the money as a donation, as long as they were willing to lend a big hand with the removal project. The league, which will hold its annual opening day on Saturday, March 22, at Clayton Community Park, was quick to accept the offer.
So one Sunday morning – the operation had to be done during non-business hours – more than a dozen Clayton Little League representatives and players went to work, removing staple after staple from every dollar bill to help fund the league.
“They were the first group that jumped at the opportunity, knowing the work that it would take to get it done,” Van Meter said. “I always looked at the money as the community’s money still, not ours. We were just caretakers of the community’s money and it means a lot for us to be able to give it back to a local project.”
Van Meter spent more than four hours sorting and stacking the worn bills, then turned them over to representatives of Wells Fargo bank of Clayton for processing.
The donation was expected to potentially be as much as a few thousand dollars. McKinley’s representatives will present a check for the donation amount during opening day ceremonies on Saturday morning.
“Clayton Little League is very thankful for the donation from Eric Van Meter and McKinley’s Restaurant & Pub,” said Clayton Little League vice president and information officer Michael Orlowski. “This donation will allow us to buy new catchers equipment and baseball gear for all players in the league to use.
“The kids that play baseball with Clayton Little League will benefit for years to come thanks to the generosity of Eric and those who put a dollar on the wall of McKinley’s over the years.”
At Opening Day on Saturday there will be a parade of teams to begin the festivities at 9 a.m. The league photo will be made and teams will take the Little League pledge. The official donation from McKinley’s will be made about 9:20.
Among those appearing are Muddy the Mudcat, last year’s Clayton Idol winner to preform the National Anthem and Clayton mayor Jody McLoed to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
There will be vendors onsite, a bouncy house, face painting, a 50/50 raffle and other prize raffles.
Games be played in the Machine Pitch (ages 7-8), Minors (9-10) and Majors (11-12) leagues on Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m. and continue until about 3 p.m.
Van Meter says patrons will be able to leave their dollar bill on the front of McKinley’s bar once again soon. Some customers expressed regret at seeing them gone but understood when told where they went.
“Once we fill the front of the bar up again,” Van Meter said, “we’d love do to something like this again for the community.”
Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest