It was a year-and-a-half ago that I first introduced readers to the Scarecrow Foundation. Headed by Jimmy Buckner, the organization has had as its purpose from the beginning to “Help End Hunger in America.” Unconventional in several respects for a 501(c)3, they have never solicited or received donations, grants or other funding, operating entirely as a local volunteer organization for seven years. Now the organization intends to take its efforts to a national level.
The organization has focused its efforts entirely on raising funds for and, especially important, generating volunteers for local hunger organizations. The philosophy of the effort has been guided by the belief that no one should be hungry in America, a focus on organizations which are already feeding people and need money and volunteers, and the motto of “Entertainment with Purpose.” Board member Bill Regas is fond of saying, “Scarecrow helps the helpers.”
Jimmy described the seven years by saying, “From the beginning, Chairman Harry Wade agreed for us to earn credibility and trust in the community before we asked for any money from the general public. Scarecrow has grown via cross-marketing campaigns with the support of the restaurant industry, media partners, and private brand sponsors. Hence, after 7 years and over 120 local promotions, we are now poised to grow into a more typical non-profit model. Moreover, we will be able to help more people in need of hunger solutions and thus begin our journey in helping to end hunger in America. We certainly invite people to join this mission and to have some fun at the same time.”
The best known of the events hosted by Scarecrow is Gator Hator Week. Started in 2004 by Buckner, it actually was a stand alone week of events leading up to the UF/UT football game. Some of the events during the week charge admission, are free, like the poker tournaments, or charge entry fee, like the golf tournament. Others simply ask for a donation. All include calls for volunteers and informational opportunities for the organizations receiving the money. Gator Hator week, which will be September 10th through 16th this year, raises money, awareness and volunteers for the Love Kitchen.
Also on this year’s local agenda, Derby Week activities runs May 1st through 6th. Activities through the week include a poker tournament, golf classic, Bourbon and Cigars event, Horse Selection Party, The Oaks Party and, of course, a Kentucky Derby Watch Party. One hundred percent of the money generated from the events goes to Second Harvest Food Bank. Bash Bama Week has also been added for October this year and will benefit Mobile Meals.
In order for the group to become a national organization, they will need funding to create a national board and to hire a small staff. The initial goal is to hire three full-time staff persons and the first, modest goal is to raise $90,000 to fund those positions. The initial headquarters and offices will be at 18 Market Square, sharing space in Downtown 211, upstairs.
The group could, of course, begin a crowd-funding campaign, as donors for major contributions or start the effort with grants. While any and all of that may happen at some point, that would make for a conventional and dull beginning. That’s not what Scarecrow does. “Entertainment with Purpose,” remember?
That’s where the “Throw Deep for Hunger” campaign comes in. Much like the ALS bucket challenge a few years ago, the idea is to get people throwing objects (sounds like fun already) and as they do it, donating $10 to Scarecrow and/or pledging to work at least one hour at a local food pantry or food program like those mentioned above. Donations can be made here. Note that the website is still ramping up and, for example, though Pay Pal is the only option offered on the page, once you click through that page, you have the option of using credit/debit cards. I made a donation and I hope you will, too.
But if you want in on the fun, here’s how it works: Film your throw and post it to social media. Include your name, city and what you pledge to do – donate $10 (or more) and/or donate an hour (or more) working to help end hunger locally. Challenge a couple of your friends and make your throw. Post the video on Facebook (and other social media) with the friends tagged.
As if the fun of the challenge isn’t enough, you can also submit your video (or nominate videos) to via the website to compete for prizes in three different categories. This round will run for six months and then another challenge will be given, with the hope to continue raising awareness, money and volunteer hours.
The prizes and categories? The Most Creative Throw wins 3 days/2 nights in Venice, Florida at the Hotel Venezia – with $1,000 spending money. The Most Impressive Throw wins 3 days/2 nights in Siesta Key, Florida at the Captiva Beach Resort with $1,000 cash. The Best Team Throw (up to six people) wins 3 days/2 nights in a six-bedroom cabin in Pigeon Forge and $2,000 to spend.
I’ve included a couple of sample videos (rolled into one) here to get your creative juices flowing and a podcast with Jimmy Buckner and Tyler Miller discussing the issues and the campaign. Start planning now and check back on the webpage as it is being updated madly as you read this. Donate directly, if you like. You’ll also have a chance to learn more, directly from the horse’s mouth, as Jimmy Buckner joins me this Sunday morning on Knoxcentric on WUTK, 90.3 at 10:00 AM.