'Save Our Butts' meal giveaway set for Friday

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Derek Bunkley, the local tattoo artist with a cause, is teaming up with several local businesses to hold another charitable event — dubbed “Save Our Butts” — in Camden County. This time, it's for those who are out of work. 

Local residents might remember that he once gave away tattoos at his shop for money to pay off school lunch debt at Camden County Schools. He also collects toys at Second Skin Tattoos around the holidays to help Toys for Tots. With COVID-19 putting so many locals out of work, Bunkley's newest mission is to feed the masses. 

On Friday, he and his friends will have more than 600 smoked barbecue pork meals to give away. 

“People need to assess their families and assess their neighborhood. If you need 20 meals, you come get them and make sure your people are fed,” Bunkley said in a phone interview Tuesday. 

The drive-thru meal giveaway will be set up starting at 1 p.m. at Bennett Chevrolet and Dodge dealerships in Kingsland. They will be there giving out meals until they run out. 

Bunkley thanked dealership manager Anthony Romano for working with him to help support the event. In addition to Bennett Group, local restaurants Outerbanks, The Green Room, Fulford's Fish House, Wee Pub and Sonny's are helping to provide side dishes or other materials and assist the organizers. 

Bunkley's business was closed due to the governor's executive order last week, so he is not making any money right now. But he said he could not stand by and see his friends — many of whom work in the restaurant, service or entertainment industries — go hungry. 

On March 28, he celebrated his birthday by giving away gift cards to those who were in need. Then he had other people donating to him to keep that effort going and eventually handed out $3,500. At some point, he was gifted a large quantity of pork butts to use and that grew into this food program. 

“This helps me as much as anyone else right now,” Bunkley said. “It gives me some purpose. It gives me something to keep busy and gives me an opportunity to help.”

He said Kingsland Police Department will be assisting with the event to make sure that there is appropriate distancing and that things go smoothly. They also will be feeding first-responders with some of the food, Bunkley added. 

Bunkley said they won't turn anyone away, even if it means getting their information and delivering a meal to them later. He hopes to be able to do this at least monthly until the pandemic has subsided. He said if everyone does their part, we can get through it together as a community.

“If you have extra money in your pocket out there, use it to do something good,” he urged. “There are so many families who are dealing with unemployment out there right now.”