"Chivers" party with a purpose, raise money for charity in Panama City Beach

Published: May. 22, 2016 at 10:36 PM CDT
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"On the outside you look and you see a Bill Murray t-shirt or Keep Calm and Chive On and people are like, 'what is that?'"

To these Chivers, including Brian Mercedes, Chive by Southeast is where community goes offline.

"Well the Chive is what I like to call the three Hs: humor, hotness, and humanity," he said, describing the website.

The Chive is known for humorous photos and videos, memes and photos of women, among other things. But it's also known for its online community.

More than 200 Chive chapters meet up regularly across the country. And at this inaugural Chive by Southeast event, these hundreds of party goers came from dozens of states to raise a glass in Panama City Beach for the Chive.

"They do what we call partying with a purpose which is what this weekend is all about," said Mercedes, the executive director of Chive Charities. It's the branch of Chive that manages these charitable meet-ups.

"How many meet ups have you been to?" Chive administrator Shawn Lovill asked a crowd? "Two? How many have you been to? Five?" he answers back.

"People come out to support these causes left and right just because we want to have a positive impact," he said.

Mercedes said proceeds from this multi-day party will go to support people with rare illnesses, veterans returning from overseas and first responders. At their goodbye brunch at Spinnaker beach club Sunday afternoon, they displayed a check for $40,000 raised for charity, not including Sunday's proceeds.

"This is not the generation Y that you read about online, the entitled you know Millennials," Lovill said. "These are a bunch of *expletive* hooligans that just want to make somebody's life better."

"So amazing, so friendly," Mercedes said of his Chive peers. "So you know you go to a bar and see somebody with a Keep Calm and Chive On shirt on and you know that you automatically have a friend."

At the Chive meet-ups, these Chivers say strangers become acquaintances.

"It's crazy," the raspy voiced Mercedes said. "Losing my voice because I want to talk to everybody."

The acquaintances become friends.

"They're our best friends," administrator Mike Smith said, putting a hand on Lovill's shoulder. "They're family!"

And sometimes these Chivers can become so much more.

After the day's check presentation, David Victoria got down on one knee in the middle of the Spinnaker club and proposed to his girlfriend Lauren. They'd met through work in Chicago, and bonded over Chive. She said yes.

"I mean I knew I wanted to propose to her but since the opportunity was like here with our Chive family that's what I wanted to do it here, I wanted to share with all our friends," he said proudly.

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