NORTH TONAWANDA — When Jim Phillips heard how the future Sherwood Avenue home being built by charity for Marine Cpl. Paul Schaus was targeted by burglars, it struck a chord.
Phillips, a Marine himself, and his organization the Buffalo Bills Backers Club of San Diego, are no strangers to philanthropy.
The 300 members there raised money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, sending a check to an American Red Cross outfit in Buffalo, and they helped another Marine out with modifications to his home.
But when Phillips, a Niagara County native, discovered Schaus’s situation documented in the Tonawanda News last week, he brought it up to the hundreds of members who meet regularly at the Pacific Beach Ale House to cheer on their hometown team. They passed the hat and raised $500 in donations on the spot, though it didn’t stop there.
With similar clubs posted around the country and the world and with the advent of Facebook and other social media sites, communication is often just a click away.
According the Buffalo Bills’ official website, Bill Backers International has more than 100,000 fans around the world, with 180 chapters in 40 states and 11 countries.
And since Phillips put the word out late last week, a coalition out of Boston tendered a $300 commitment, while another in Orange County, Calif., a short distance away from his own group, offered another $300. With the kitty at $1,100, more may still be on the way.
“I read about it, I e-mailed all the people in the club,” Phillips said. “I threw 20 bucks in and the next thing you know we have people e-mailing from across the country asking how they can help.”
Most of the members are Western New York expats who left the area and now gather on Sundays — or Monday in some far-flung chapters — to watch their beloved Bills.