LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Shrine Club caught a big one on Friday, with more than 900 plates of fried fish and all the fixins sold during the first half of the club’s annual fundraiser.
The Bill Sapp Recreation Center was again used for the event, which raises money for the Shriners Hospital for Children, but this year Biggs Park Mall was used for pickup only.
Lunch was served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at both locations, with dinner sales planned for 4 to 7 p.m. so the number of plates sold was only going to grow.
Among those dining at the Sapp Center was Janel Jones, a former Shriner’s Hospital for Children patient who came out with her family to support the fish fry. Janel’s mother, Jenene Jones, said they try to support the Shrine Club in any way they can because of what the club did for their family.
“We try to come every year,” she said.
Linda Locklear and her husband, Roten Locklear, rushed from Shannon to get a plate of fish at Bill Sapp.
“We’ve been working today and we said: ‘Oh, let’s not forget the fish,’” Linda said.
Linda and Roten are longtime supporters of the club.
“The proceeds are going to a good cause and that’s what it’s all about,” Linda said.
Eight bucks would buy a plate with two large pieces of fish, hush puppies, cole slaw, and a croissant from Thomas Burney’s Cakes & More bakery in Elizabethtown. The fish, whitings, came from Atlantic Seafood. Club Treasurer John Grissom said about 1,400 pounds of fish were bought for the fry.
Bobby and Kathleen Smith enjoyed the fish so much they went for a third piece. They were on vacation at the beach and drove down just to support the cause and get some fish.
“The fish is awesome. We love whitings,” Kathleen said.
Brent Barnfield, Robeson County Shrine Club president-elect, said they didn’t have a set sales goal, but they were prepared to sell as many as 2,000 plates.
“We just want to make as much as possible to give to the hospital,” he said.
The Shriners Hospital for Children treats for free children suffering from burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip and palate, among other conditions. There are 22 Shriners Hospitals in North America. The closest one to Robeson County is in Greenville, S.C., and specializes in orthopedics.
“Parents’ inability to pay isn’t a factor on whether they can get help or not,” club member Lewis Woodard said.
The Robeson County Shriners raises about $60,000 a year through various fundraisers. Other fundraisers throughout the year include the Valentine’s Day dance, tractor pull and clam boils. Money raised this past year was used to buy a van to help transport families who couldn’t afford to travel to the hospital locations.
“Without the support of the town, this wouldn’t be possible,” Shrine Club member Adam Ward said. “Them buying that plate is helping some child walk.”
The fundraiser has been taking place since the 1970s.
For information on the hospitals and finding the nearest location go online to Shrinershospitalsforchildren.com.
Reach Tomeka Sinclair at 910-416-5865