There are 23 Sam’s Club stores all over Georgia but the first one opened right here in Morrow 25 years ago and that is cause for a celebration, said officials.
Friday’s anniversary party kicks off at 9 a.m. with a breakfast and will be followed by speeches from dignitaries, performances by the Jonesboro High School band and a rendition of the national anthem by Reggie McClure, a Sam’s Club store manager.
Event coordinator Frances Mingo said Sam’s Club, which is owned by the Wal-Mart corporation, is a proud supporter of the local community.
“I think that is why communities are open to have Wal-Mart or Sam’s stores come in,” she said. “We provide more than 200 jobs and organizations know they can come to us for assistance. Most people don’t know but each store has a budget that can be used to help the needy.”
Last year, Sam’s Club volunteered at six different organizations, including Rainbow House. The Jonesboro shelter provides for abused and neglected children.
“We couldn’t work inside the shelter so we provided arts and crafts at their annual Christmas party event,” said Mingo.
As part of the Volunteering Always Pays program, Sam’s Club sends a check to each organization store associates support through volunteering. The business helps feed the hungry through bakery and meat donations to the Atlanta Food Bank, she said. About 50 associates also made sandwiches to feed 300-400 hungry folks one Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church.
“Some of our associates had never even seen anything like that before, so many hungry and homeless people,” said Mingo.
Sam’s Club also assists public safety agencies with food and water during times of crisis. Clayton County police Sgt. Otis Willis III said the business stepped up in October 2011 when officials searched a Jonesboro lake for a drowning victim, Henri-Christophe Bourget of Jonesboro.
“They came out, brought food and water for us during the search,” he said. “They do a lot in providing resources whenever we need them.”
Mingo said the store also fed the teen’s family while divers searched a fishing lake for his body.
Clayton County police Chief Greg Porter is among the dignitaries expected to attend Friday’s festivities. The mayors of Clayton’s municipalities are also invited to address the crowd. The event is open to everyone, regardless of membership to Sam’s Club.
In fact, Mingo said the business provides several services to the general public.
“You don’t have to be a member to use our pharmacy or optical departments, or to buy alcohol or tobacco,” she said. “I don’t think people are aware of that.”
The Morrow Sam’s Club is at 7325 Jonesboro Road, near Battle Creek Road.