The prize list for the upcoming Mogollon Sporting Association banquet is growing in leaps and bounds.
Items donated for the live auction, raffle, silent auction and door prizes include more than two dozen quality rifles, shotguns, muzzle loaders and bows. Other prizes include art and prints, collectibles, camping equipment and more.
MSA members have also put together a "wish list" and are scouring the community trying to secure even more donations. On the list are range finders, sport radios, optics, meat and fish smokers, camp ovens and backpack tents. By the time the banquet date, May 1, rolls around, MSA members expect to have most of this equipment pledged.
One of the highlights of the evening will be the early bird drawing for those who purchase their dinner tickets, priced at $50 each, before April 1. The winner of the drawing may chose as a prize either a Browning bolt-action, 7 mm Magnum rifle or a diamond solitaire slide pendant.
MSA member Russ Kinzer said this year's prize list will probably be even more impressive than it was last spring, when it included a guided elk hunt on the Baca Ranch near San Ysidro, N.M. and a $2,000 Payson Jewelers gift certificate.
Since its inception in 1993, the MSA banquets have generated more than $120,000 at the banquet events. Equal amounts of the funds earned have been distributed to local youth programs and to wildlife projects, mostly in hunt unit 22 near Payson.
MSA funds have helped purchase football equipment for both the high school and middle school programs, ellipsoid lights for the PHS drama department, drums and cymbals for the school district's music program, cheer squad uniforms, soccer goals and many other items.
Much of the equipment purchased for Payson Unified School District programs would not be available through traditional funding sources due to budget constraints.
The MSA also helps sponsor debate team tournaments, the Holiday Hoops girls' basketball and the Tim Van Horn Memorial wrestling tournament.
The funds that have been donated to enhance wildlife and habitat have been used for controlled burns, the building and repair of water guzzlers and to purchase metal detectors for wildlife law enforcement. The MSA also sponsors the wildlife fair held each spring at Green Valley Park and its accompanying fishing derby.
Donations have also been awarded to the Chance Amon playground project, Mogollon Montoneras and the Eastern Arizona College campus.
The members of the MSA are volunteers, which keeps administrative costs at a minimum.
The banquet schedule tips off with a no-host cocktail hour at 5 p.m. The dinner and awarding of door prizes will begin at 6 p.m. The various raffles are set for 7 p.m.
Call Wayne Morgan at (520) 474-0440 for additional information on the MSA or to purchase banquet tickets.