Oyster roast fundraiser a success

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — “Our desire is to help the children, to make their life as normal as possible,” said Tammy Aiken-Clark, chair of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Pickens County Guardian ad Litem. “We provide services to the children who are in the Guardian program. For a child to be in the Guardian program, they’ve got to have to have DSS involved in their life. They’re in a family court situation with DSS.”

The Friends board is made up of volunteers, community leaders and professional people. Next year, the group will celebrate its 15th year.

“Our mission is to support the Guardian program,” Aiken-Clark said. “To take care of the children while they’re in this situation.”

The organization helps meet requests from Guardians ad Litem concerning the children they are advocating for.

“The guardian says the child wants to go to camp, the child wants to go to a field trip and the foster family or the kinship family doesn’t have the money,” Aiken-Clark said. “So we pay for stuff like that.”

The group has paid for computers and bunk beds for children moving in with other family members.

“We pay for medical items that Medicaid doesn’t cover,” Aiken-Clark said. “Medicaid doesn’t cover but one pair of glasses a year. So, a child, being 2 or 3 years old, they can break a pair of glasses. So we buy glasses.”

The group has paid for a helmet to protect a child from a medical condition, as well as cochlear implants for children with hearing problems.


Contributed photo
Legendary former Clemson football coach Danny Ford attended this year’s Clusters for Kids Oyster Roast, benefitting the Friends of the Pickens County Guardian Ad Litem program. He’s pictured with Friends treasurer Nika Phipps.

The Friends have also helped cover costs for trips to medical centers for treatment.

The organization is celebrating the recent success of its largest fundraiser, the Friends of the Guardian Ad Litem Clusters for Kids Oyster Roast.

This year’s event, the third annual oyster roast, was held on Oct. 22 at Arran Farm in Easley.

“It’s been a success since day one, our first one,” Aiken-Clark said. “The third one was even more successful.”

Each year’s event has increased in both attendance and net profit for the program.

“This year we cleared over $23,000,” Aiken-Clark said.

The event’s silent auction is one of the largest such events in Pickens County.

Former Clemson University football coach Danny Ford attended this year’s oyster roast. He has donated footballs and luncheons to the group’s silent auction for years.

The oyster roast is the group’s largest fundraiser each year.

The generosity of the Pickens County community makes each year’s oyster roast possible — and successful — each year. This year’s sponsors included Acker, Lamber, Hinton, P.A., Issaqueena Pediatric Dentistry, United Tool and Mold, Foothills Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, 5 Point Church, The Fee Family and Reliable Automatic Sprinkles Co., Alexander Law Firm, Blue Ridge Electric, Central Textiles, Inc., Jerry Cain Auto, MST Concrete Products, The Clardy Law Firm, The Hinton, Rep. Gary Clary, Imperial Die Casting, Liberty House Inn, Foster Family & Licensing, Pickens County DSS, Harper Collins Law, SC Youth Advocate Program, Palmetto Air Solutions, LLC, Law Offices of R. Scott Dover, Behavioral Health Services, Greenville Sports League and the Brian James Law Firm

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used toward the program’s “Heart & Sole” event, where it partners with Belk and Rack Room Shoes to provide back-to-school clothes and footwear for children in the Guardian ad Litem program. Students from 5K to 12th grade benefit from the event.

The event served more than 200 children last year.

New clothes can help build up a child’s self-esteem, Aiken-Clark said.

“We want these children to have the normal things that other children have,” she said.

Aiken-Clark hopes that one day the event can be expanded to help 4K students as well.

The Friends of the GAL also holds smaller fundraisers throughout the year.

“We need other funds throughout the year because we don’t want to be in a situation where a child (has a need),” Aiken-Clark said. “If our funds aren’t coming in, we’d have to send them somewhere else. It makes a difference.”

Other events include recognizing and thanking the Guardians ad Litem for their work advocating for their children.

“The Guardian program is a volunteer program,” Aiken-Clark said. “Everybody that serves a child is a volunteer in our community.”

Currently, around 80 people are serving as Guardians ad Litem in Pickens County. Officials would like to see that number rise to 120.

The group holds a Spring Fling for children around 15 and younger each year

“That’s just a fun day,” Aiken-Clark said. “We have hot dogs, inflatables, cotton candy, face painting — just a fun day for them.”

The group maintains and stocks a clothes closet at the Pickens County Department of Social Services for children in need.

“We have such a great relationship with DSS,” Aiken-Clark said.

Caseworkers and guardians can access the closet for the children they are involved with.

“When a child comes into custody, it could be eight o’clock in the morning or it could be two o’clock in the morning,” Aiken-Clark said. “You’ve got caseworkers who are bringing children in, and these children may be pulled out of dire situations, where they have no clothes. It’s traumatic for these children to come into a situation. They may come in with the clothes on their back. The DSS that has to bring a child in, they sign out clothes.”

Caseworkers can pick out three outfits per child. Toiletries, teddy bears and blankets are also available.

The group also provides gift cards to help meet children’s immediate needs.

For more information on the Friends of the Pickens County Guardian Ad Litem, visit or find the group on Facebook.