Bars make Christmas special for children with annual Happy Slapowitz's Toy Bash

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmastime brings feelings of charity, and there is one event that is growing every season, helping children receive toys for Christmas.

This year, Happy Slapowitz's Toy Bash looks to provide even more children with a special Christmas gift.

"We have seven locations that we are doing this year with eight bands spread across them," said Ryan Eftink, organizer of the event, which happens Thursday. "The Rude Dog has always been a sponsor, and continues to be the heart of the event."

The event began in 2004 solely in the Rude Dog Pub in downtown Cape Girardeau. The goal was to raise money and gather new toys to be donated to the Toys for Tots toy collection program, headed by members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Last year was the first year the event spread outside the doors of the Rude Dog, with The Library and Pour House participating. For 2011, Happy Slapowitz's Toy Bash added bands at Roxy's Country Saloon, Mixing 10, Lodo and Buckner Brewing Co.

Members of Headly Grange from left,Kenny Fisher, Derrick Shipp, Scot Kluesner and Lamar Holdiness. (Laura Simon)

For the cost of one new unwrapped toy or a $10 donation, patrons can visit all of the participating venues for a night filled with many different sounds thursday. Eftink said this year organizers are selling commemorative T-shirts for $20, which also gives wearers access to all of the venues.

In addition to entertainment, food will be provided by Smokin' Brothers Barbecue, and will be served from 6 to 8 p.m. Music starts at all the venues at 8:30 p.m.

"One thing that has changed, besides the number of locations, is that we've added a raffle at each of the locations," Eftink said. "$5 buys a chance to win a random selection of merchandise donated by local merchants and restaurants, and some golf courses have donated some rounds of golf, too."

Eftink said each location will have its own specific raffle box.

"The event has kept growing in the directions I have wanted, and what it was meant to do," Eftink said, adding that he is proud of the event and hopes that it continues to grow every year.

Sam Godwin, bassist for The Intention, which is playing at the Rude Dog this year, said he is always glad to be a part of the event.

"I really think it's a great charity," he said. "It's especially cool that with this event, there is no overhead of which I'm aware, and all donations go directly to purchasing toys for kids. I just really feel like every child should get something for Christmas, and I'm honored to be a part of making that come true."

Godwin is no stranger to the value of charity.

"I learned the value of charity events firsthand when Holly [his fiancee] was diagnosed with breast cancer," Godwin said. "Through two benefit concerts, the generosity of friends, family and total strangers really helped offset the financial burden that comes with a serious illness."

Godwin said "everyone who likes to have a good time while helping a great cause should come out, but if anyone isn't the ‘going out' type, the door person at any of the venues will happily accept dropped-off donations."

Tune Squad

More information is available on the event's Facebook page.

Lower Downtown Jazz Quartet
The Intention
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