The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Not A New Kid On The Block

Block of Bucks An Enduring Glasgow Tradition


The Courier

A band from Glasgow Air Force Base plays live on the radio in 1960, early in the effort that evolved into "Block of Bucks." KLTZ had a radio marathon to get callers to raise funds for children at the time.

You might see students from Glasgow High School, Soroptimist members and other various members of businesses and organizations standing in the intersections downtown Glasgow on Friday, Dec. 5. It's a 50-year tradition for the community to rally for funds to help provide clothing for children.

The tradition started with the Glasgow Jaycees, a fraternal organization that accepted men between the ages of 21-35. The group had various projects throughout the year that helped the community. In 1960 they started the Children's Christmas Shopping Tour. It was a Christmas program with a goal to raise $1,000. Local residents Bob Baker and Bob Sizemore chaired the program in the early days.

Records found in the Glasgow Elks Lodge held notes on the early beginnings of the project. They would hold a radio marathon to raise funds for the children to purchase clothing. They were able to buy one toy with their funds, and the rest was to go toward apparel. A committee would review each child to approve for the project. The first year around 25 members participated.

While they fell short of their goal in 1963, only raising $725.50, the money stretched a lot further back then. Merlin Hunter participated in the late '60s, as well as Gene Hartsock. Neither could remember when or who actually came up with the idea to staple dollar bills to boards around a block, but soon after 1964 the tradition was born.

"The lumber yards would donate the boards. When we finished we would return them, so there was no cost," Hunter said.

"We used to start around Markle's and would lay the boards down and staple the bills to them," Hartsock said. "It was our goal to make it around the block."

The small 1x4 boards would sit in the snow or rain each year. Hartsock said that the bank wasn't always thrilled with the sometimes wet and crumpled bills, but they would assist with the project each year. The wives, or the Jayceeans would take the children shopping the following day. While the number of bucks rose each year, the value of the amount raised seemed to help around the same amount of children each year. Hartsock said that even back then the stores would give extra discounts on the purchases to help the dollars stretch a little farther.

"Everyone in the community would bend over for the thing, which is pretty much the same thing," Hartsock said.

Hunter explained that as the program progressed they surpassed their one block and would get closer to two blocks. As time passed the Jaycees eventually phased out. Lack of membership had the group quitting in 1993. The local Soroptimists immediately picked up the tradition and took over in 1994. That year they raised over $7,000.

Karen Grewe explained that today the children go through the social services to qualify for the program. She said that the National Guard assisted in collecting funds in the first years the Soroptimist took over the program. She remembers a mystery donor giving a large amount and 22 cents each year, and they have kept it going. She said that donor was never known, but it was one donor that she remembered. While the boards phased out, the name Block of Bucks has remained for history's sake.

This year will be the tenth year the group has run the program. Since 2007 the program has raised $140,000 and have helped 734 families buy clothing for 1,723 children. Last year was very successful with over $29,000 raised.

People are urged to stop by and donate on Friday, Dec. 5.


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