Upcoming Fundraiser for Fellow Americans Impacted in Puerto Rico
*Editor’s note: This story was updated since it has been published. Layton Johnston’s quotes were added along with some changes with the participants of the fundraiser.
By: Jessica Clifford
After hitting landfall weeks ago, Hurricane Maria has left many Americans wondering how they can assist their families and fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. The answer has come in the form of beer, music and camaraderie – known as the “Weekend of Giving: Foods, Brews & Grooves.”
Any tap handle with a Puerto Rican flag at participating bars will donate 100 percent of their proceeds to building care packages for families in smaller villages on the island. Everything from the purchasing, building, and shipping the packages will be done in Greensboro.
Brian Hernandez, veteran bartender and former bar manager at several Greensboro-based bars, started sharing his idea of a fundraiser for Puerto Rico a few weeks ago. After talking to Chris Flathers, the idea became a one day, one location event.
Eventually, other bar owners and staff, as well as distributors came together to make the fundraiser an extended event.
Specifically noted individuals include Kenny Giard and Layton Johnston of Corner Bar, Mike Bosco of Bites & Pints and Westerwood Tavern, Kris Fuller of Bites & Pints and Crafted as well as General Manager Somer LeeAnn Griffin of Fat Dog’s Grille & Pub. These workers organized and built the fundraiser in a few days by offering their venues, time and money to the cause, working hard to make the event come together.
“The reason we got involved was because of Eli and Ketsy’s families, who have had their lives destroyed in Puerto Rico,” said Johnston, who is also an administrator of the Greensboro Chive. “They [Eli and Ketsy] are part of our Chive Family, so we always try to do our best to take care of them.”
A total of six businesses, 12 breweries and dozens of people are assisting by donating their venues, products and time to make the “Weekend of Giving” possible.
Though the giving has already started with many participating bars using tap handles fashioned with the Puerto Rican flag, the main event starts this weekend.
The giving begins earlier on Friday, Oct. 13 at Crafted-The Art of the Taco, where a percent of the restaurant’s proceeds will go towards the fundraiser. There will be an opportunity to buy specialty beers with the Puerto Rican flag on the tap handle at this location.
Later Friday night, the giving will continue at Westerwood Tavern, where the Puerto Rican flag will be displayed on select drafts and a percent of the sales will be donated. Karaoke begins at 10:30 p.m. and will continue to close.
Then, on Saturday, Oct. 14, the fundraiser moves to Corner Bar co-owned by Kenny Giard. The bar has already begun donating their proceeds from select drafts. At 10 p.m., the North Carolina-based three-piece cover band, My Brother Skyler, will perform.
On the last day, Sunday, Oct. 15, a double celebration will take place at the grand opening of Bites & Pints Gastro Pub, where the fundraiser will continue and a parking lot party will welcome customers. Several bands will play throughout the day including The Ends, Old Heavy Hands, Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands and J. Timber.
A suggested $5 entry donation will also be asked of people on both Saturday and Sunday nights to help in the total money raised.
Other bars across Greensboro are participating in the fundraiser as well.
Fat Dog’s Grille & Pub has already started fundraising with two tap handles decorated with the Puerto Rico flag, and in the past week, Craft City Sip In has been donating their sales from a few kegs.
Southern Wine & Spirits, Fat Dog’s Grille & Pub and Craft City Sip In are serving as drop-off venues for donations, which are still being collected for shipment to Puerto Rico. Donate batteries, baby formula, clothing and more, to have a chance to win a prize from Fat Dog’s Grille & Pub.
Caffey Distributing has also contributed to the Weekend of Giving by donating beer and printing promotional offers. Special thanks goes to Trish Shroyer, the Triad sales manager of Freedom Beverage Company for organizing the 12 breweries, and for the distributor itself for sending unlimited beer until Sunday night.
“These are American citizens through and through,” said John Verdejo, who was born and has family living in Puerto Rico. He continued to explain people should not treat the disaster’s impact as a momentary issue.
“We just want to help like everyone else,” said Hernandez, who was born in Puerto Rico and has relatives still on the island. “We are talking about people’s lives here.”
Though the fundraiser’s main event is only a weekend long, donations will continue well past the weekend.
A special thanks to the following breweries:
Shmaltz Brewing Company
Clown Shoes Beer
Heretic Brewing Company
Red Brick Brewing Co.
Orange Blossom Brewing Co.
Tarboro Brewing Company
Unity Brewing Co
Total Beverage Solution
Lost Coast Brewery
Humboldt Brewing Company
Southern Appalachian Brewery