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Pooler Magazine

The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

by Cindy Reid | Photography by the 200 Club

Without the brave men and women who risk their lives for our sake, our lives would be very different. That’s why when tragedy strikes, the 200 Club (a 501 (c)(3) organization) immediately responds with financial support to help lessen the devastating effects.

As an organization, the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire proudly and honorably provides significant financial assistance, as well as fully paid college education to the surviving spouse and children of law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty while protecting our communities.

In our community, the 200 Club is a powerful force for good, a force that quietly shoulders a tremendous responsibility to the families of first responders who have lost their life in the line of duty.

From the Ashes of Grief, Hope Rises

It started in 1952 when businessmen in Detroit Michigan banded together to financially assist the pregnant widow of a young police officer who was fatally shot while serving an arrest warrant to a felon. Because one hundred people came together to help, it was given the name “100 Club.”

Following their example, more than 120 clubs with the same mission to support surviving families formed throughout the country.

The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire was founded to honor police officer Christopher Argentinis, who gave his life while protecting others.

On December 11, 1999, 36-year-old officer Argentinis said goodbye to his family and reported for duty with the Wareham Police Department in Massachusetts.

He would never return home.

Struck by a car while in a foot chase with a wanted drug offender, Chris succumbed to head injuries two days later, leaving a wife and two young sons, ages 6 and 4.

After having spent 12 years serving his community and while working undercover in a narcotics task force, Christopher and his family made the ultimate sacrifice.

Creating the 200 Club

Chris’s father, Tak Argentinis, was made aware of the 100 Club concept after his son died. After moving to Savannah, he and his wife Renee decided to create what is now the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire. To date, the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire has given over $3.8 million to support the families of fallen first responders in a 20-county area of Georgia and South Carolina.

Longtime volunteer and Board member Mark Dana is now the President and CEO for the 200 Club and looks forward to expanding the organization’s mission to help heal and support as many first responder families as possible.

“We’re going to be increasing our regional engagement and we hope we can rely on added community support as the club moves into this next phase of growth and effectiveness,” Mark says.

Mark has been involved for 14 years. “I was in law enforcement for ten years, then after a career change to the hotel business, Tak recruited me to help with fundraising. Then he asked me to be on the Board of Directors, and now I am the first President and CEO of the organization. Our founder Tak is Chairman of the Board and remains very much involved.”

Line of Duty Benefits

The 200 Club’s line of duty benefits for active firefighters (including volunteer fire department members) and law enforcement officers is an immediate and significant cash payment to the surviving spouse and children and an opportunity for a college education. They provide a fully paid college education to surviving family members, including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and a computer. Every year thereafter, the 200 Club provides meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and red roses on Mother’s Day.

Mark says, “Most people are surprised to know how much higher education costs and they are always surprised to learn we pay all expenses, not just a stipend or scholarship, for the children and surviving spouse. Any expense necessary for their education is covered—from tuition, books, and computer to room and board or apartment and utilities.”

 The 200 Club is currently supporting seven college students, including one currently attending Barnard and one currently attending Yale (which even with a scholarship costs over 100K per year)

“The recipients are extremely thankful, especially the surviving parents, because we have been able to relieve a huge financial stress from their lives,” says Mark.

He says several spouses have also utilized the program and returned to school, one to earn a Master’s degree in Elementary Education, and one to attend nursing school.

They also help families access the benefits they are entitled to receive. “We had 12 Covid deaths, which are a “line of duty death” in our service area, so in addition to financial support we stepped in to ensure the families received the federal benefit funds they were entitled to,” says Mark, “We offered this service at no charge of course and the families were very grateful as the application process is arduous and we can use our experience to make it easier for them.”

Membership & Fundraisers

Once people learn of the 200 Club and the work they do, they want to learn how to help.

Going forward, the goal of the 200 Club is to increase membership. Primarily financial donations made by the membership is how the club is able to serve the 20 counties they currently assist.

“By increasing our membership, we can grow beyond the twenty counties, to a statewide level,” says Mark.

Becoming a member is easy—simply go to their website and click on the membership tab. As a member you’ll make a pledge for a monthly contribution. The membership platform can be from $20 a month up to 30K.

Many members are first responders, and there is a First Responder Rate donation of one hundred dollars a year. However, the 200 Club is open to anyone who wants to support the surviving families.

In addition to the financial support provided by the members, the 200 Club hosts fundraisers to raise funds as well as awareness. Their number one fundraiser is the Pooler Run for Heroes, which has been increasing in participation every year and is held in May.

Upcoming events also include the popular July 4th Whole Fully Smoked Boston Butts sale and the Labor Day Cookout and Car Raffle Drawing.

Currently, 1,000 tickets are being sold for $100 each for the opportunity to win a brand new car from The Grainger Companies. At the Labor Day event, the winner of the car raffle drawing will be announced, and they can choose between a new 2022 Honda CR-V or 2022 Nissan Rogue. All taxes for the vehicle are paid by The Grainger Companies and 100 percent of the proceeds from the raffle will benefit the 200 Club. The event is free and open to the public and complimentary food and drinks will be provided by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

The 2022 Community Heroes Golf Tournament is also upcoming, and information and registration details will be posted to the website soon.

Join to Support

Being part of a community means supporting each other in times of need, especially those who put their lives at risk for our benefit.

Law enforcement personnel and firefighters face grave danger on our behalf every day they are on the job. When one pays the ultimate price while keeping us safe, it is only right that we as a community respond in support, emotionally and financially. The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire is there to provide that support, and members, old and new, are what make that possible.

For more information about the organization and how you can help, visit