Sixty current and former members of the Hay River Elks Lodge took to the greens over the weekend for the 30th-annual Elks Charity Golf Tournament.
With generous donations from a multitude of sponsors, the group raised $5,000 as of June 9, adding to the total of $250,000 the tournament has collected in the last 30 years.
“I think the sponsors are particularly interested in how the money all stays in the community,” said Gary Hoffman, president of the Hay River Elks. “Everything we raise stays here and goes to local causes and individuals.”
The Elks have a long history of contributing to all kinds of events and causes in the community, ranging from sports and schools, to wellness programs and the health centre. Beyond the Elks’ commitment to help those with speech and hearing disabilities at a national level, the organization does not have a dedicated set of charities to fund.
“The focus is mostly on youth,” said Hoffman. “But we also do a lot of work with the Hospital Board Foundation. They come up with a wish list and we do what we can to make at least some of the things on it happen.”
Hoffman estimates that, on average, the Hay River Elks raise $70,000 a year from a variety of activities for a total of about $2 million over the last three decades.
For this year’s tournament at the Hay River Golf Club, 20 members from Yellowknife joined 40 from Hay River for two days of golfing. However, it was the auctions conducted during the banquet on Saturday evening that raised the majority of the funds. Along with a live auction, there was also a silent version and a raffle. Sponsors included – but were certainly not limited to – Poison Graphics, Home Hardware, CIBC and Rowe’s Construction.
For Joe Agrey, visiting for the tournament from Yellowknife, it is an opportunity to get together with friends more than a serious golfing competition.
“Me and some other guys have been coming down here for seven years in a row,” Agrey said, as his fellow golfers joked that he had left his golf game in the territorial capital.
The tournament is so popular organizers have to limit the number of participants to 60. While the banquet and auctions on Saturday night were open to anyone, the logistics of co-ordinating even 60 golfers on one course are not for the faint of heart.
“I’m super impressed with how it’s been going and the turnout, too,” said Chad Orr, a member of the organizing team. “It’s just a great opportunity to get together for a good cause.”
— Sarah Ladik