Photo: Drew Pearson holds a wreath being auctioned. /Photo by John Starkey
Food, fun and football memories were shared by all during the 24th annual Irving Salvation Army Super Lunch presented at the Irving Convention Center on Monday, Dec. 12.
The Super Lunch is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Irving chapter of The Salvation Army. All the funds raised at this event will go to programs run by the Irving Salvation Army, in particular the Irving Boys & Girls Club. Major Stan Carr, commanding officer of the Irving Salvation Army, explained one of the main purposes of Super Lunch is to raise funds to underwrite the cost of the Boys & Girls Club so the Salvation Army can keep the program affordable for all families.
“It’s only $8 a week for a child to be [at the Boys & Girls Club.] You can’t pay a babysitter $8 just to get a couple of hours,” Carr said. “So, that to me is a huge thing. It gives them a safe place to be where they get educational help, recreational help, a snack and a meal.”
Last year nearly 450 people attended Super Lunch. This year almost 500 people were in attendance, making this the largest Super Lunch to date. The event started with a silent auction, with items ranging from homemade gift baskets to pieces of art and memorabilia. A live auction was also held during the luncheon, where big-ticket items like weekend getaways and vacations were sold to the highest bidder. Guests could also bid to sponsor children wanting to attend summer camp.
During the luncheon The Salvation Army gave out special awards to members of the Irving community. The Robert Power Award was presented to Sharon Barbosa-Crain. The Youth of the Year Awards were presented to 9-year-old Yeimy Rodriguez and 6-year-old Justin Alvarado.
Anita Tipping-Wheeler, a piano teacher from Irving, has attended Super Lunch before and makes donations to The Salvation Army as well. She explained the people in Irving are very generous and always willing to help a good cause like the Salvation Army.
“It’s a beautiful thing that they do. The Salvation Army does so much good for everybody,” Tipping-Wheeler said. “We all need to participate and help each other during these times. When you have something, share it.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s Super Lunch was former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson. During an on-stage interview, Pearson recounted many of his memories with the Dallas Cowboys, including the genesis of the famous “Hail Mary” pass from Roger Staubach during the 1975 playoff game between the Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. Pearson also discussed an interview he had with former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and current wide receiver Dez Bryant, who all three wore the #88 jersey for the Cowboys. When asked who he believes should be the next inductee into the Cowboys Ring of Honor, Pearson made a case for the inclusion of Clint Murchison Jr., the original owner of the Cowboys.
“There is no Drew Pearson, there is no Dallas Cowboys without Clint Murchison,” Pearson said. “I do not understand his omission. If anybody deserves a statue in front of AT&T Stadium, of course Tom Landry, but Clint Murchison as well.”
The Dallas Cowboys have been partners with The Salvation Army for over 20 years, with the halftime show for the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day Game serving as the official kickoff for the Red Kettle Campaign. Pearson said the Cowboys’ involvement with The Salvation Army was “second to none,” and he is very proud of his former team’s work with the organization. He went on to add that The Salvation Army’s work was invaluable to families, children, and everyone in the Irving area who just needs a little extra help to get by.
“The best way to appreciate The Salvation Army is to imagine them not being there, and all those families and people they can’t help,” Pearson said. “Where would they go to get that help? If you look at it in that perspective, you certainly appreciate what The Salvation Army does.”