A doggone good idea: Dixie Dog Designs raising funds for CCSO’s Special Needs Rodeo

Beverly Burke and her husband, gunsmith Jim Burke, also volunteer at the CCSO’s Jimmy Arrington Memorial Rodeo. (2018 Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Beverly Burke has been making jewelry for 19 years, longer than she and her husband, gunsmith Jim Burke, have lived in the Cullman area. Even with an official name, Dixie Dog Designs, it has always been a hobby instead of a business, and she gives her work away for donations to be passed along to charities. For a third year, now, her dedicated cause has been the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Special Needs Mini Rodeo, which precedes the annual Jimmy Arrington Memorial Rodeo.

The pro rodeo event is coming up next Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13-14, and the Special Needs Mini Rodeo will take place Thursday, Dec. 12.

Burke’s effort started small in 2017, raising $407. In 2018, she more than doubled that, reaching $904. This year, she wants to continue the trend, and with more than a week to go until the event and one more sale day coming this Saturday, she is already nearing the $1,800 mark.

Burke told The Tribune, “I’ve been making jewelry for about 19 years. I’ve raised money for the Cullman County Animal Shelter and used to volunteer at a nursing home years ago, till we started this business (her husband’s business, Jim Burke Gunsmithing). So I’ve been making jewelry for about 19 years.

“I’ve never had a business; it’s never been something that I’ve made money myself. It’s never been part of it. I consider it my ministry; that’s really what I think it is. You know, the Lord’s blessed me, and it’s just a way to give back to the community.”

Burke has set up her pop-up shop this year at the Alabama Highway 157 Warehouse Discount Groceries, Tractor Supply, Faith Baptist Church in Vinemont and the November Cullman County Republican Breakfast. This Saturday, she will return to the Republican breakfast, and as soon as breakfast ends (usually around 9 a.m.), will make her way back to Warehouse Discount Groceries where she will be offering her wares inside the store entrance until the early afternoon. Sometime next week, she will present the season’s proceeds to Sheriff Matt Gentry.

For Burke, there are no cash registers or online card readers, and especially no price tags. Instead, she has a simple donation box on her table. 

Said Burke, “I would just like for people to come out and pick out something. I don’t care what they donate. You know, if they only have a dollar- I’ve had little kids with just change in their pockets pick out something for their mommas or grandmommas! It don’t matter! I’ll have little Christmas gift bags for people; they won’t even have to buy nothing. They can just put a donation in the little bucket of mine and take a gift, and get a little bag, too! Just donations only; I don’t put a price tag. I just tell people to give what the Lord leads them to give. And I’ll tell you: people are more generous when you do that. I’ve had young men that wouldn’t even take anything put a donation in my little bucket, and they’d tell me, ‘Well, the next little girl that comes buy, give her something. So I’ve had people that didn’t want anything; they just wanted to donate.

“It’s just a blessing to get to do it. And, you know, the money, all of it goes for the special needs kids. They’re just very near and dear to my heart.”

Burke concluded, “This community is so phenomenal, and we just feel very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful county. We’re neither one from here, originally. We just love it. We’ve been here 18 years, now. So it’s home for us. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

If you are out and about Saturday morning, stop by and see Beverly Burke and Dixie Dog Designs inside the Alabama Highway 157 Warehouse Discount Groceries in Cullman, and don’t miss the CCSO Jimmy Arrington Memorial Rodeo Dec. 13-14.

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Beverly Burke, with her hand-made jewelry and donation box, has raised more than $3,000 for the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Special Needs Rodeo. (Photo courtesy of Beverly Burke)
A pair of Dixie Dog Christmas tree earrings can brighten someone’s holiday and help make a special needs student’s day. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

W.C. Mann