By Julia Euliss
In the mid-1980s, a group of friends comprised of residents of High Rock Lake and “weekend warriors” congregated regularly to socialize. In 1987, while the group was gathered at a Southmont facility for a Christmas party, a need in the community was made known to those present and the group took up a collection of $650.00 to help. The following year, a similar event occurred and $1,250.00 was collected to help the needy, including a family whose home had been destroyed by fire. In 1989, the group decided to further the tradition by holding an auction of items donated by local individuals and businesses to raise money to buy Santa gifts, food, and clothing for local needy families.
This worthwhile endeavor, combined with the social element, generated increasing interest from members of the community and throughout Davidson County. The original group of roughly 14 individuals created an informal club and elected officers. Club membership was established and immediately began to grow in number.
In the mid-1990s, the River Rats adopted a set of by-laws to establish policies and provide guidance for its growing membership. The River Rats soon became the host for semi-annual golf tournaments benefiting the American Children’s Home and other worthy causes.
The club assisted in cleaning High Rock Lake in First Citizens Operation Big Sweep in the early 1990s. Over the next ten years, the River Rats gradually assumed the total responsibility for organizing and conducting the cleanup of High Rock Lake in Davidson County and portions of Rowan County. After 2000, lake level fluctuation intermittently prohibited the group from conducting the operation on the water during several statewide events. In 2007, Davidson Water Inc. adopted the project for Davidson County.
The annual Christmas Benefit has drawn in as many as 300 attendees. Through the auction of hundreds of donated items and services, the event raised funds in excess of $20,000 each year. Proceeds were distributed to deserving families and children to meet a multitude of needs.
Since its humble beginnings, the River Rats has evolved into a North Carolina chartered non-profit corporation, specifically The High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. Incorporated in 1999, the group presently maintains an average of 75 members. The corporation is administrated by a nine-member executive board comprised of four officers and five directors elected by the membership.
In 2013, over $15,000 was donated to families, American Children’s Home, Nazareth Children’s Homes and 175 children in need through yearlong fundraisers. To find out how you can get involved and to learn about upcoming events, please visit www.highrocklakeriverratsinc.com or find us on Facebook (HIGH ROCK LAKE RIVER RATS – look for the rat cartoon logo). You may also call Julia Euliss at 336-210-6571 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.