LAURINBURG — The Optimist Club of Laurinburg has been frying up fish for a good cause for almost 50 years.
The club’s first fish fry was held in 1969 and was the brain child of Bill Riggins and Wayne Hobbs. The event was such a success that it has continued to become a twice yearly event, one in spring and one in fall, according to Optimist Jerry Riggins, Bill’s nephew.
“We call it a family plate sale now because they added shrimp and chicken tenders a few years ago so we could have a good variety since some people don’t eat fish,” Jerry Riggins said.
The latest fundraiser is Wednesday at Optimist Park in the Deer Field community at 9961 Turnpike Road.
The fish is available for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and again from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Plates will include a choice of flounder, shrimp or chicken tenders slaw, hush puppies and a cookie for dessert. Plates are $8 dine in or take out. Orders of six or more can be delivered.
The money raised goes to support Optimist softball and baseball. The club also holds candy bar sales and a Christmas tree sale every year. Optimist leagues are made up of 46 teams between the ages of six and 12 years-old.
The plate sales usually net the club about $8,000. Last year’s event saw 3,000 hungry visitors come through Optimist Park.
Proceeds go put back into the teams or scholarship prizes for the club’s annual oratory contest. Scotland County has sent local contestants to state and national oratory contests through Optimist Club.
A lot of work goes into preparing the sale but it’s good for the members, according to Jerry Riggins.
It typically takes three days to stage and prepare the food and equipment. Last year 50 volunteers sold tickets, ran the drive through pickup, prepared, cooked and plated up the meals that do so much good for youth sports.
“It’s a great club and team building program. It gets everybody out there at the same time and working together. Not everybody can do the same thing so they get put into the best job for them,” Jerry Riggins said. “We’re a member of Optimist International, and these fundraisers give us so many opportunities to put funds where they’re needed.”
The Laurinburg chapter of the club was founded in 1961.
Optimist International is a global volunteer organization made up of more than 2,500 local clubs whose members work to make the future brighter by bringing out the best in children, in their communities, and in themselves, according to the organization.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169