“Serving Community Roles with Caribbean Souls” is their motto
The Official Friend Club of Howard Livingston, the Southernmost Coconut Castaways actually originated in Iowa back in 2007, where the first club still exists today. Marc and Tammy Holland started the group after wanting to be part of something more involved with the community than their local Parrothead Club in the area.
“We do at least one Jump-Up (club get-together and fundraiser) a month. At first we had to search out non-profits, now they find us,” Tammy said.
The Coconut Castaways have 400 members in 30 states and are in two countries. In addition to the club Tammy and Marc started in Iowa and the Florida Keys, there is another in Port Charlotte, FL.
Last year the Coconut Castaways raised $114,000 with their Jump-Up fundraisers and the help of musician Howard Livingston, who is known to auction off high-dollar margaritas with his contraption created with an outdoor boat engine. Their “Meet Me in the Keys” event raised $31,000 for Sugarloaf KOA’s Care Camp, a camp for kids with cancer where they forget about the stress in their life and swim, go on hikes, sing songs and create memories that help get them through the tough times.
“I call it my fulltime, non-paying job,” Marc said while laughing.
Marc is responsible for sending the press releases and media coverage information and Tammy does near everything else. Together they lure in volunteers for their different events. Most recently the club volunteers at the Ragnar race. It is a rewarding feeling giving back to the community Marc said.
“My favorite event is the teen drive during Christmas time. Many people think of Toys for Tots where they bring gifts for young kids but there are teens too,” said Marc.
The club’s philanthropic spirit got attention by other companies as support. The Smokin’ Tuna, Hogfish and Boondock’s just to name a few give a percent of their sales during for different charity fundraisers. Papa’s Pilar Rum has became a sponsor, with drink sales donated to good causes. The rum company even created a custom cocktail for the club— the Castaways Killer Cocktail made with Pilar rum, pineapple juice and coconut cream.
“At one fundraiser we had guys painting their toenails to raise money,” Tammy said. “The Keys community is extremely giving.”
A list of the non-profits the club does events for encompasses near every one there is in Key West and the Lower Keys. Not all the volunteers go to all the events, members pick which ones they want to go to. At the end of the year the member with the most volunteer hours receives a painted coconut, a Caribbean Soul Award.
Their next event is for the Coldwell Banker Charitable Foundation, Tuesday, March 17 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Boondock’s Grille and Drafthouse. The Coldwell Banker Charitable Foundation helps homeowners when they have trouble paying their rent or mortgage.