El Dorado native honors mother, community with annual food giveaway
By Tia Lyons
Giving back and helping others were principles that were instilled in Rance Olison while growing up in the Fairview Addition in the 1960s.
Under the watchful eye of his mother, the late Carrie Buggs, and the adults in the tight-knit community, Olison absorbed the many lessons they taught, and he is passing them on with the third annual Mrs. Carrie Kendrix Buggs Turkey, Ham, and Hen Giveaway.
The giveaway is set for 11 a.m. on Dec. 21 at Fairview Head Start, 800 E. Barnes. The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the South Arkansas African American History Museum.
Olison is hosting the giveaway in conjuntion with several other individuals and organizations, including the South Arkansas African American Historical Society and the San Antonio-Austin chapter of the National Football League Players Association Former Players.
Olison, a former NFL player who lives in San Antonio, said the idea of bringing the giveaway to El Dorado, and more specifically, to the heart of the community where he grew up and attended elementary school as a child, sprang from a similar event that occurred in San Antonio two years ago.
He said a major grocery store chain and cellular phone company there teamed up then to give away 4,000 turkeys to the less fortunate.
Divine intervention led Olison to organize a similar drive for families in his hometown he said.
“I walk every evening. While I was walking, God spoke to me and said, ‘Why don’t you do that in El Dorado?’ I said, ‘God, I don’t know at such short notice if we can do 4,000, but I will do what we can,” he explained.
It was November 2011, and Olison said he immediately called childhood friend Elisha Modica in Dallas and asked Modica if he would be interested in helping out with the effort in the place where they both grew up. With an unfettered and enthusiastic yes from Modica, Olison set about making calls the following day, and with the help of local pastor Chester Passmore and Cross Life Church, as well as a few other local donors, the first giveaway was launched on Dec. 21, 2011, at Teeter Honda in El Dorado.
One hundred and sixty five turkeys went to needy families that day. In 2012, the giveaway was moved to the SAAAHM, and it expanded to include 300 turkeys and hams.
This year, recipients will have their choice of 356 turkeys, hams and hens, Olison said.
“Each year that we can do the giveaway we will be moving it to different neighborhood schools in the community around El Dorado, simply because we need to give the people something positive happening in their neighborhoods,” he said. “You can always hear of negative things happening. Why not give each neighborhood something positive?”
As with the 2012 giveaway, participants will be required to sign in, present a photo ID and meet the federal, annual income guideline of $23,550 for a family of four to be eligible to receive a turkey, ham or hen.
Priest Holmes — an Arkansas native and former running back for the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs, who was recently nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame — and other former NFL players will be on hand to sign autographs at the giveaway, Olison said.
A former player for the Kansas City Chiefs himself, Olison said his athletic talents and desire to help others emerged on the playground of the Fairview school, so hosting the giveaway there is fitting.
“Fairview (Head Start) is where I grew up, across the street, and attended elementary school there. I played and learned how to treat people the way I wanted to be treated and learned how to play all sports,” he said. “I never thought that when we used to play on the campus, that one day we would be doing what we are about to embark upon on the 21st of December.”
His mother helped to start plans for the 2012 giveaway from her hospital bed, but she was unable to see it through. Carrie Buggs passed away on March 26, 2012.
The event became her namesake, a way for Olison to pay tribute to her and to carry the torch she lit by identifying needs in the community and helping to meet them.
“Mother was always about giving, ever since I can remember. When she passed on last year, I said what other, better way to honor her legacy of giving by naming the giveaway in her name and memory,” he said.
To participate in the give away, make a donation to the SAAAHM or for more information, call Lena Nelson at 870-862-6570, Linda Williams at 870-875-2611 or Jaqueline Payne at 870-866-1553.
Published: Saturday, 12/07/2013
El Dorado News-Times