Ken Bradford still remembers the first time that helping his community really struck a chord with him.
Several years ago, Bradford and other members of the local King’s Men Car Club were personally dropping off food and other supplies to a needy family in Orting around the holidays. The mother saw the members coming up the driveway with their arms full of stuff and couldn’t contain her emotions.
“I broke down in tears,” Bradford recalled about the joy he felt from being part of the experience. “She was so excited to (receive) diapers.”
While the King’s Men no longer purchase items and deliver them on their own, the private car club — with members all over East Pierce County — is still in the business of donating to and providing for the needy throughout Pierce County. In 2014, the club donated more than $16,000 total to local organizations such as the Sumner Food Bank, the Puyallup Food Bank, East Main Animal Hospital, Puyallup Eagles Scholarship Fund, Pierce County Crime Stoppers and the Gig Harbor-Peninsula Food Bank, to name a few.
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We aren’t just a bunch of car nuts taking your money. We like to help.
“We aren’t just a bunch of car nuts taking your money,” said Bradford, who has served as the club’s president for the last eight years. “We like to help.”
In addition to having some pretty sweet rides, all 40 members love to give back to the communities where they live. The club has also built up a list of local businesses it works with to raise money for its two large fundraisers each year: a Show and Shine event in Orting each February and the club’s annual Rod Run, which happens each June.
“(Businesses) want to be associated with us,” said Bradford, who worked as a service manager for 39 years at the former Conforth-Campbell Pontiac, Buick and GMC dealer in Puyallup.
Since membership in the club is capped at 40, members know what a privilege it is to participate in each club event. Everyone pays their dues and has an equal commitment to giving back.
“We’ve had a waiting list in the past,” Bradford said.
And anyone looking to become a member in the club has to be sponsored by a current member. It helps the rest of the club get a feel for someone and if they are going to fit into the club’s culture of hot rodding and charity work, he said.
Bonney Lake resident Jerry Yoder, former owner of Sunset Chevrolet in Sumner, belongs to eight different car clubs. That number seems about right considering he has 26 classic cars — all housed in a garage he’s added on to about six times.
“Of all the clubs I belong to, the King’s Men have a special knack for raising money,” said Yoder, who turns 70 in March.
$16,000 Amount the King’s Men Car Club donated to local organizations in 2014.
A member for the past several years, Yoder said one of the things he enjoys the most is that if a club member speaks of someone in need in the community at the club’s meeting, it doesn’t take very long for a vote to get that person some kind of financial support.
“We can have $1,000 for that person in a matter of minutes,” he said.
After the club’s charitable endeavors have been fulfilled, then comes the fun part. Members get to talk shop, and some love to give Bradford a hard time for all the non-Plymouth parts (Chevrolet motor, Ford rear end and even some interior Toyota parts) he used in building his 1938 Plymouth Business Coupe.
“I’ve got what I tell them is an international car,” Bradford said with a laugh.