Survey says: ‘Family Feud’ event to assist local charities

By: Sarah Wojcik, | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 5, 2014

UTICA — A popular game show inspired one local church to provide family fun, food and raise money for charity.

Trinity Lutheran Social Ministries will host its annual “Family Feud” game event Feb. 8 in the church gym, 45160 Van Dyke Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m., and three rounds are scheduled at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Charities that will square off include Macomb Charitable Foundation, Macomb Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, Charity Music, Gifts for All God’s Children and the Hope Center.

Organizers estimate the fundraising event kicked off in 2003 or 2004. It was the brainchild of Trinity Lutheran Social Ministries Director Dan Karlin. Parishioners Tim Grupe and Andy Mather also bring the show to life, with Grupe assuming the role of host Richard Dawson and Mather taking care of the technical aspects and judging.

A 15-foot screen and life-size set, complete with 10-to-12-foot tables, buzzers, sounds effects and music, help set the tone of the evening, and Grupe usually dons a powder blue tuxedo when he takes on the persona of Dawson, Karlin said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Grupe said, adding that he and Mather have a reputation of hamming it up at children’s church events. “People look at us and say, ‘Oh yeah, those are the goofballs willing to go up and make a fool of themselves.’”

Grupe said that the charity representatives often have a blast choosing coordinating T-shirts or hats, and Karlin added that they will jump up and down and hug like the families on the TV show.

“Tim sends out questions to 200 people and takes the first 100 answers, then he’ll do the tabulations. He enjoys it,” Karlin said. “The questions are real and new each year, and he does an incredible job.”

The event usually draws around 300 people who watch the show in theater-style seating. The church also offers a walking buffet from 6-8:30 p.m., as well as silent and live auctions.

“People are just hyped,” Karlin said. “The atmosphere is very electric, and they know to expect the humor of everything.”

Karlin said the charities bring the silent auction items with them and any item worth more than $100 automatically will be entered into the verbal auction.

Last year, through advance pledges, the auction and $10 ticket sales, the church raised more than $8,000 for the local charities.

“For $10, it beats any other kind of entertainment you can get,” Karlin said. “We provide supper and entertainment.”

Grupe said that it feels good to do something to help worthy charities and that the fundraiser is a good, family-oriented event.

For more information, call Dan Karlin at (586) 731-4490, ext. 116.