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St. Clair Shores

April 30, 2014

Optimists to honor Champions, students at banquet

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

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Robby Eimers caught the attention of the Cabrera Foundation, which donated Miguel Cabrera Triple Crown T-shirts for the foundation to share in Detroit in July 2013.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — When Robby Eimers was 9 years old, his grandmother and her friend took him and his sister to downtown Detroit, not to see a musical or attend a festival, but to see the hardships of the homeless.

“It just shocked me,” said Eimers, now 11 and in the sixth grade at Endeavor Middle School in New Haven. “I knew there was homeless people, like one or two, but to see how many people were there, it was crazy, so I said we had to do this often.

“Now, we go every Saturday.”

And what Robby and his sister, 8-year-old Emma, do each week is bring food to feed the hungry near the Neighborhood Service Organization building at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Third Avenue. They also bring clothes, water, hygiene products and other items.

“We were in the car, and my grandma was telling me stories like what my aunt did, because she did a lot of charity work. I thought … maybe it’d be good if I had a foundation to get other kids involved,” Robby said. “Me and my sister started doing chores, and we would take the money and buy food and water and other items.”

He also began to log the adventures on a Facebook page for what he has called the Eimers Foundation. When word spread as to how Robby and Emma Eimers were “sharing” with their friends, “out of nowhere, some people on my Facebook page started saying they wanted to donate and it started to progress, and it got huge.”

Eimers’ grandmother is Cindy Kostukoff, of Clinton Township, who works at South Lake Middle School. She said when word got out about the Eimers Foundation there, “it just snowballed.”

Now, South Lake Middle School’s Green Team makes 50-100 sandwiches every week for the Eimers to take down to Detroit. And the help is appreciated by those who the Eimers are “sharing” with, Kostukoff said.

“They know we’re coming. They see our car, they’re running after us,” she said. “They genuinely love Robby and care about them.”

That’s why Robby and Emma Eimers and Kostukoff will be among those honored at the 16th annual Champions Banquet put on by the Optimist Club of St. Clair Shores.

Set for 5:30 p.m. May 7 at Blossom Heath Inn, 24800 Jefferson Ave., the event will honor four community members for their work in St. Clair Shores, along with awarding eight scholarships to students graduating from St. Clair Shores high schools.

“The scholarships are not given out for grades; they’re given out to the students who have either had a hardship or overcome a hardship … and are graduating on time,” said Kathy Rayner, chairperson of the Champions Banquet for the Optimists.

The group gives out a total of $12,000 in scholarships, with each of the city’s four high schools being able to nominate two students for the $1,500 scholarships.

Also at the banquet, the Optimists will recognize students with the “only the best” award, sportsmanship awards, Lac Ste. Clair Art Fair art awards and a youth leadership award.

In addition to honoring the Eimers, the Optimists will also honor St. Clair Shores resident Chuck Hall for his work with the Goodfellows, Memorial Day Parade, Sno Commando’s and various other city organizations; Ted Heubert and The Lake House for providing support and a place for those touched by cancer; and former South Lake School Board member Allan Innes, who has assisted former students in need of financial assistance in college, as well as paid off lunch bills for some students in the district.

“Every year, they’re amazing people,” Rayner said. “It’s what people are doing for our community is why we are honoring these people in our community.”

Kostukoff said her grandchildren feel it’s only natural to help those in need, despite what other people may say about them.

“We get a lot of negative comments about the homeless, (but) they’re people,” she said. “They’re someone’s child, someone’s father, sister, brother, and they need help and we can’t turn our backs on them.”

“I don’t mind; it doesn’t take up a lot of time … to see how many people we help and the smiles on their faces,” Robby Eimers said.

The 16th annual Champions Banquet will start at 5:30 p.m. May 7 at Blossom Heath Inn, with a buffet dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are available to the public by contacting Maureen Moore at Snowbizmo@aol.com by May 2. In addition to the awards and scholarship ceremony, there will also be an auction and raffle, with proceeds to benefit the Optimist Club of St. Clair Shores scholarship awards program.

For more information about the Eimers Foundation, visit facebook.com/theeimersfoundation.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.