The Pee Dee Picklers Pickleball Club 

North Carolina Pickleball

The Pee Dee Picklers Pickleball Club Gives Back

ScreenHunter_4968 Jan. 22 06.10

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Pee Dee Picklers Pickleball Club has made a name for itself in the area when it comes to recreation, but it also has done its fair share of giving back.Debbie Spinazzola, the Florence and Darlington ambassador for the United States Pickleball Association, said the club has been in the Pee Dee since 2015. The Pee Dee Picklers started with only four members but now has approximately 120 who rage from 20 years old to 85.“We’re all community-minded,” Spinazzola said. “We know there’s more to life than pickleball, even though we love pickleball. We just try to help out when we can in the community.”In November, the Pee Dee Picklers assisted Help 4 Kids with a food drive. This is the second year the club has assisted. Help 4 Kids Florence, a nonprofit organization, provides weekend bags of food each week to 2,200 elementary students in Florence County who are hungry. Local food drives and donations make it possible for the organization to provide the food bags.Spinazzola said members of the Pee Dee Picklers stood in front of Walmart on Irby Street in Florence on Nov. 11 for eight hours to collect food for Help 4 Kids. Food donations usually consist of items such as Ramen Noodles, Vienna Sausages, fruit cups, Pop Tarts and juice.“We stood in front of Walmart that day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Spinazzola said. “Actually, Walmart ran out of the food that we were collecting. It was a lot of generosity that day. It wasn’t just us, it was the community. I’m really proud of that.”One of the main ways Help 4 Kids is able to get food donations is through food drives, said Allie Walker, Help 4 Kids’ vice president and treasurer.“What they (Pee Dee Picklers volunteers) did was hand out little cards with the food items we needed and asked the customers if they didn’t mind purchasing an item,” Walker said.With the food collected, the Pee Dee Picklers were able to assist Help 4 Kids in feeding more than 1,500 childrenDiane Welsh, president of Help 4 Kids, said the energy displayed by members of the Pee Dee Picklers is contagious. She said when the group hosted food drives at Walmart, Help 4 Kids received more food than it ever has gotten.The Pee Dee Picklers have been such a dynamic supporter of Help 4 Kids, Welsh said. And not only do group members contribute to the cause of childhood hunger, they have encouraged other people to provide monetary and food donations, Welsh said.“And without groups like them, we couldn’t feed the 2,200 children we feed every week,” she said. “It costs us over $5,000 a week to do what we’re doing. And the generosity of the Picklers and the community that surrounds us that’s also involved with them, it’s just vitally keeping us going. We can’t do it by ourselves.”Spinazzola said the Pee Dee Picklers also have volunteered by participating in the Salvation Army’s annual red kettle bell ringing during Christmastime.“We also had a free camp for children in the summertime, and we hope to do that again,” Spinazzola said. “We feed them and teach them the game of pickleball at Timrod. That’s another thing that we try to do to help the community.”Spinazzola said the Pee Dee Picklers have both indoor and outdoor courts and play at the Barnes Street Activity Center and at Timrod Park in Florence. Pickleball players can participate in both competitive and recreational games.  Send you stories to ncpickleball@gmail.com

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