In recent years, the Johnston County Area Shag Club has existed mainly as a bank account, its membership down in tandem with the popularity of shagging.
But this Christmas, the club opened up its checkbook to a handful of families and nonprofits, looking to make the holidays brighter.
“We wanted to help out around Christmas and hopefully make it a little better,” said former club president Ron Pearce, who delivered the checks. “In the past, we gave away something every year, but we haven’t done that the past three years, so we looked at our books and decided it was time to give away some more money.”
In all, the club donated $5,000, divided evenly among two families stricken with cancer and three nonprofits: Harbor Inc., which provides aid, including shelter, to victims of rape and domestic violence; Me Fine, a group that offers financial aid to families of critically ill children; and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Johnston County.
“Christmas can be a hard time for people and organizations,” Pearce said. “We decided we needed to help someone out.”
Most of the Johnston shag club’s money comes from annual Halloween dance parties held with two Wayne County clubs. Millennials, however, have not found the shag, and the Johnston club is officially inactive.
“Our membership got to getting so low, we’re active only in having the Halloween dance,” Pearce said. “We tried to increase membership with a few dances in the community, but the turnout wasn’t happening. The main problem is there’s not a permanent place for us to dance lately; we’ve had to move around so much.”
Founded in 1989, the club grew to 140 members at its height but is now a loose connection of six board members. So perhaps the shag club’s future lies in philanthropy.
“The joy comes in seeing people’s faces who you’ve helped out,” Pearce said.
Donna Jones runs Smithfield-based Harbor Inc., which provides shelter to between 50 and 100 women and children each year. It helps around 3,000 others through various support programs.
“Donations like this is really what keeps us going,” Jones said of the check.
Harbor broke ground on a new shelter in October and hopes to complete construction by the spring, doubling its number of beds to 28.
“Around Christmas, the public opens their pocketbooks and hearts to us,” Jones said.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson