By Tia Lyons
El Dorado native Rance Olison is starting the seventh annual Mrs. Carrie Kendrix Buggs holiday giveaway the same way he finished the sixth annual event: by giving thanks to his hometown by citing a favorite quote as a reminder of the reason for the season.
“Thank you, El Dorado, for allowing (me), our supporters, and staff to ‘givers’ of such a great city, knowing that one day we will all reap the benefits of being a ‘gainer,’” Olison said.
The giveaway began in 2011 as way for Olison, a former NFL player who lives in San Antonio, to honor his mother, the late Kendrix Buggs, the community where he was raised, and the Texas community in which he has become deeply entrenched.
Olison and his supporters aimed to help families in need celebrate the holiday season by supplying them with turkeys and hams.
The event has since grown with a wider selection of meat — this year, turkeys, hams, hens, ducks and game —, increased donor participation, and the distribution of toys for children.
The 2017 meat giveaway is set for 10 a.m. on Dec. 23 at the American Legion Post 10, 105 Christian Drive.
A bicycle giveaway will follow on Dec. 24 during morning worship services at Zion Watts Baptist Church and New East Side Missionary Baptist Church, both in El Dorado; Mount Zion, No. 2., Missionary Baptist Church, Urbana; Ebenezer Baptist Church, Strong; and El Bethel Baptist Church, Three Creeks.
Olison said 36 bicycles will be awarded to the top six students at each church who have excelled academically in their respective grades, first — sixth.
“Each pastor will be blessed for their outstanding community services in their church communities and allowing our organization to come in and be a blessing to the babies of their churches,” Olison said.
In 2016, nearly 1,000 units of meat were given away in Arkansas and Texas, and Olison said he expecting to give away more this year.
To be eligible for the meat giveaway, applicants must be onsite, at least 50 years old, on a government assistance program — Social Security, Social Security Disability, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. — and their annual income must be at or below the Federal Poverty Level guideline of $24,600 a year for a family of four.
Applicants must present proper identification or any other proof to demonstrate age and need.
Olison said first responders with the El Dorado police and fire departments and the Union County Sheriff’s Office are also invited to participate in the giveaway.
Several former professional football players will be on hand signing autographs, including El Dorado natives Olison, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in the 1970s, and Billy LaFear, who played for the Cleveland Browns;
Junction City native Kevin Payne, formerly of the Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers; Priest Holmes; and Johnny Skywalker.
Former professional wrestler Gary Jackson will also be signing autographs.
The athletes will also take photographs.
For more information about the giveaway, call Lena Nelson at 870-862-6570 or Olison at 210-240-0083.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com.