While unconventional, the concept is simple. Several FAMU athletics supporters meet for lunch at Ole Times Country Buffet weekly. They pay $20 each to the treasurer. The cost of lunch ($8) is taken out to cover expenses and the remaining funds are donated directly to athletic teams, mainly for scholarships.
"We started doing the weekly lunch during football season to support summer school for the football team. I read about the deficit in athletics and knew I couldn't address something that large, but took it upon myself to try and help in some small way as quick as possible," Jackson said. 220 Club is the name derived from their initial goal of $20 per week for 11 weeks of football.
"Coach (Joe) Taylor has commended us over the years for helping with an initiative that better prepares his team for a fast start in the fall. We've also expanded our contributions to men's and women's basketball," he added.
Taylor says the hour spent with the supporters is probably his favorite hour of the week. "We get together and break bread and then we have the opportunity to educate our fanbase. We talk about what happened the previous week and then unveil our plan for the upcoming week. I thoroughly enjoy it every Wednesday during the season. It is truly outstanding what they have been able to accomplish through the club," Taylor added.
The latest project is one of the largest to date. When softball coach Veronica Wiggins visited the 220 Club luncheon, as opposed to taking normal offering, she requested the club provide a new pitching machine and state-of-the-art water removal system. The total cost of the purchase was $2,200. In March, the items were delivered to the softball team and immediately went into use.
The 220 Club came out to the softball field on April 4, to take a look at their investment. Wiggins and Assistant Coach Lori Goodart welcomed the donors and gave them a demonstration on how the items worked. Much to the delight of the 220 Club, the equipment was in place and already in use. In fact, the pitching machine was setup to train some members of the softball team shortly after the demonstration.
"Since 2009, we have been having our lunch meetings. To date, we've donated over $17,000 to football. This year we gave $700 to women's basketball and $500 to men's basketball. For softball we gave $1,400 for the pitching machine and $800 for the water-extraction system. We're going to give the baseball coach (Willie) Brown, a check today for $600," Jackson said.
FAMU director of athletics, Derek Horne, welcomes the support of the group. "To have a group take the initiative to help our situation without asking for assistance from us is huge. All we basically have to do is show up and accept the checks. Support just doesn't come that turnkey," Horne said.
While the donations seemed small at first, the cumulative effect of the contributions has enhanced FAMU Athletics over the past three years. The 220 Club's efforts have been appreciated by the administrators, players and coaches. While certainly not clamoring for publicity, the club is proud of its accomplishments thus far. "We've done pretty well. It's just an attempt in a small way to help, but it seems to be having a significant impact of the athletics department. By just having the lunches and having people who couldn't make it to lunch to send checks in support, we've been able to do this without working too hard and without much fanfare," Jackson concluded.
The 220 Club is open to anyone who wants to contribute to FAMU Athletics. There are no benefits to the giving, aside from the fact of helping FAMU Athletics, but that seems aplenty for the dedicated members.
For info on joining the FAMU 220 Club, please call Eddie Jackson at (850)212-5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org