Lone Star Guardians raises funds to help abused, neglected children

Representatives of Lone Star Guardians and the cooking teams from an event held on Jan. 18, 2020, in Liberty gather on the steps of the City of Liberty pavilion. Together they raised money for Lone Star Guardians, which donates money to organizations that help abused and neglected children.

The tempting smells of hot chicken and sausage gumbo and chili wafted through the air outside of Liberty City Hall on Saturday for a cook-off to benefit Lone Star Guardians. Eleven booths lined the grounds near the pavilion with each cooking team donating their time, money and groceries, and paying a $50 fee per cook-off entry, to raise money to help abused and neglected children of Liberty and Chambers counties.

Since the organization was founded five years ago, it has raised and donated $65,000 that was split among four charities – Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Liberty and Chambers Counties, Bay Area Turning Point, SpiritHorse Liberty (therapeutic horseback riding center) and Bridgehaven Children’s Advocacy Center.

David McNeely, one of the founders, says his mom’s charitable work after retirement was the impetus for Lone Star Guardians.

“My mom, Connie, was a CASA volunteer for four years. One day, I called her up to see what she was doing. She told me she was on her way to Office Depot to buy office supplies. She is retired, so it caught me off-guard,” McNeely said.

She explained that the supplies were for her work as a CASA volunteer and how rural counties like Liberty and Chambers have very little funding, so the volunteers often cover their own expenses and supplies.

“I told her, ‘Well, we need to fix that, Mama,'” McNeely said.

In the following year, McNeely helped raise $20,000 from a barbecue cook-off in Chambers County to benefit CASA. Because of the red tape involved in partnering with CASA, McNeely said the organization soloed its next event and every event since then.

“There are so many restrictions to having a children’s charity involved, like you can’t sell beer at barbecue cook-off and you can’t advertise it a certain way. We started Lone Star Guardians as a charity so we can host events the way we want and then donate the money to CASA. I can give them the money without having to worry about red tape,” he said.

Funds raised on Saturday also will help Lone Star Guardians prepare for its biggest fundraiser of the year – the Lone Star Guardians Fair and Rodeo, set for the first weekend of April at White’s Park in Anahuac.

Lone Star Guardians’ Roger Delong says the organization is making a push to host more events in Liberty County this year.

“Our organization benefits both Chambers and Liberty counties, and if we want Liberty County to support the organization and our cause, then we have to host more events here to promote what we do,” Delong said.

McNeely said the two counties have always been linked due to their similarities, strengths and challenges.

“Both counties have been tied to the hip for as long as I’ve known, so it makes sense for them to be together for Lone Star Guardians,” he said.

To keep up with the latest information on Lone Star Guardians, follow the organization on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lone-Star-Guardians-1501047300193522/

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