(From left): JJ’s Tavern bartender Rhonda McKinney, manager Peggy Stowers and her grandson Kai Joseph, bartender BreAnna Dean, bartender Lisa Drummer, bartender Janet Coleman and Beloit Evening Lions Club past president and membership chair Sandie Storley gather for a photo. JJ’s Tavern won the coveted traveling trophy for raising the most money in the Give-A-Buck fundraiser to benefit Beloit Meals on Wheels (BMOW). The bartenders sold $1 cards which raised $1,301 for BMOW.

BELOIT—“We’ve told everyone that the trophy isn’t going anywhere.”

That’s what JJ’s Tavern bartender BreAnna Dean said about the coveted cup won for raising $1,301 for Beloit Meals on Wheels (BMOW).

This March JJ’s sold enough Give-A-Buck cards to customers at the bar to raise $1,301. It’s the second year JJ’s at 1720 Shirland Ave., South Beloit, was presented with the traveling trophy in honor of being the top seller in the fundraising event. It marks the most raised by a bar in the history of the Give-A-Buck fundraiser.

Beloit Evening Lions Club past president and membership chair Sandie Storley, another born sales maven, organizes the annual fundraiser and drops off all the Give-A-Buck cards to watering holes wishing to participate. Bartenders sell each card for $1, and some display the cards with customer names on the wall. This year 17 bars participated.

The bartenders at JJ’s had no problem selling tickets and pulling on a few heart strings along the way. Some of the bartenders have lost loved ones, and value the service Meals on Wheels provides for seniors. They noted there is a customer who also receives the meals.

“We push it. It’s for a good pause,” said manager Peggy Stowers.

“I went through a bundle of 50 cards in five to 10 minutes,” bartender Dean said.

Bartender Lisa Drummer was the top seller, pushing them during happy hour and beyond. Drummer, who lost her mom and step mom to cancer, has a heart for seniors and those needing support.

“I told customers: ‘What if it was your mom or dad?’ It’s a good program,” Drummer said.

Storley said she had to keep running new stacks of cards out to JJ’s because they were selling so fast.

The fundraising couldn’t have come at a more critical time. Meals on Wheels is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, according to BMOW Executive Director Ellen Weigand.

“JJ’s told us in the beginning that they intended to sell the most Give-A-Buck cards so they could keep the Give-A-Buck trophy. They definitely earned this right by raising a grand total of $1,301! This is truly astonishing showing that this local bar, their hardworking bartenders, and their dedicated patrons, can raise so much money to support our homebound seniors,” Weigand said.

The give-A-Buck Fundraiser usually raises $1,700 to 2,000 a year with the fundraiser. This year JJ’s would roar ahead to raise the lion’s share of the money, Storley said.

“Generally we look at 50-100 cards per business, and some bars might do $200 depending on how much staff pushes the cards,” Storley said. “This was just unreal. There is no doubt who is going to keep that trophy for another year.”

In honor of its 50th anniversary BMOW has been celebrating with fundraisers all year long, including its March for Meals campaign in March.

“Our amazing Meals on Wheels volunteer, Sandie Storley, organizes this fundraiser and dropped off all the Give-A-Buck cards to those drinking establishments wanting to participate. Last year, our Give-A-Buck fundraiser was cut short due to the pandemic, but JJ’s still raised $332 and we awarded them the traveling trophy for selling the most cards. This year, there was quite a bit of competition with many bars really pushing this event, and the overall response to the fundraiser was incredible,” Wiegand said.