Elvis stops in Alabaster

Elvis impersonator Gregg Tucker is joined by SafeHouse's Brigette Starr and Kathy Wells outside of the Starbucks at the Alabaster Colonial Promenade on Feb. 2. Tucker and SafeHouse made stops around the county to encourage donations as part of Alabama Gives Day. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Many drivers pulling into the Starbucks drive-through at Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade shopping center did a double-take on Feb. 2 after seeing a man wearing a white, rhinestone-accented suit and gold aviator glasses standing in the parking lot.

Pelham resident and Elvis Presley impersonator Gregg Tucker dressed up as the rock ‘n’ roll icon and helped employees with SafeHouse of Shelby County kick off the first Alabama Gives Day.

Tucker and several SafeHouse employees spent the early morning hours greeting people at Starbucks before making a stop at Five Guys Burgers and Fries on U.S. 31 in Hoover at 11:30 a.m. and Superior Grill on U.S. 280 at 7 p.m.

Throughout the day, Tucker and SafeHouse officials distributed information about Alabama Gives Day, a 24-hour online fundraising effort involving hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the state. During Alabama Gives Day, state residents were able to visit Algives.razoo.com and make a donation to a nonprofit organization of their choice.

Tucker also offered pictures with Elvis for a $10 donation to SafeHouse at each of the day’s stops. The Pelham-based SafeHouse of Shelby County offers a confidential shelter and services to victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

“We have had several funding cuts, as many nonprofit organizations have,” said SafeHouse of Shelby County Executive Director Kathy Wells. “This will help us raise money for matching grants. For every $1 we get today, we will have $4 more in grants.

“So when people donate, five times that amount is going to SafeHouse,” Wells added.

To help SafeHouse employees spread the word about Alabama Gives Day, they enlisted Tucker’s help. Tucker, a real estate agent with New Location Reality, has been an Elvis impersonator since the 1980s, and has performed in Las Vegas, the Opryland Hotel and Graceland.

“(SafeHouse Development Director Brigette Starr) called me and talked to me about helping them out on Alabama Gives Day, and I was more than happy to do it,” Tucker said. “I think it’s a great cause.”

Nearly every driver who pulled into the Starbucks parking lot smiled after seeing Tucker dressed head-to-toe in Elvis garb.

“Thank you so much, you have made my day!” the driver of an Alabama Power service truck said as Tucker greeted her.

“We have been told we have the most interesting twist on Alabama Gives Day,” Wells said. “It has really seemed to pique everyone’s interest.”