In the mid-1980’s, a group of friends comprised of residents of High Rock Lake and “weekend warriors” congregated regularly to socialize. In 1987, while the group was gathered at a Southmont facility for a Christmas party, a need in the community was made known to those present and the group took up a collection of $650.00 to help. The following year, a similar event occurred and $1250.00 was collected to help the needy, including a family whose home had been destroyed by fire. In 1989, the group decided to further the tradition by holding an auction of items donated by local individuals and businesses to raise money to buy “Santa” gifts, food, and clothing for local needy families.
This worthwhile endeavor, combined with the social element, generated increasing interest from members of the community and throughout Davidson County. The original group of roughly 14 individuals formed an informal club and elected officers. Club membership was established and immediately began to grow in number.
In the mid-1990’s, the River Rats adopted a set of by-laws to establish policies and provide guidance for its growing membership. The River Rats soon became the host for semi-annual golf tournaments benefiting the American Children’s Home and other worthy causes.
The club assisted in cleaning High Rock Lake in First Citizens Operation Big Sweep in the early 1990’s. Over the next 10 years, the River Rats gradually assumed the total responsibility for organizing and conducting the clean up of High Rock Lake in Davidson County and portions of Rowan County. After 2000, lake level fluctuation intermittently prohibited the group from conducting the operation on the water during several statewide events. In 2007, Davidson Water Inc. adopted the project for Davidson County.
The annual Christmas Benefit now draws as many as 300 attendees. Through the auction of hundreds of donated items and services, the event raises funds in excess of $20,000 each year which are distributed to deserving families and children to meet a multitude of needs.
Since its humble beginnings, the River Rats has evolved into a North Carolina chartered non-profit corporation, specifically, The High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. It incorporated in 1999 and presently maintains an average of 200 members. The corporation is administrated by a 9 member executive board comprised of 4 officers and 5 directors elected by the membership.
Board meetings and membership meetings are held monthly. Accurate financial records are maintained and reports are published monthly. Separate accounting is established for charitable funds and operating monies. A representative of the River Rats is available to address any group or committee upon request and to answer any questions regarding the needs or activities of the group. The corporate minutes, by-laws and financial reports are available for review at any time.