Payson firefighters, police officers and sheriff's deputies teamed up with local residents Aug. 27 for the Department of Public Safety's Christmas for Kids benefit golf tournament at the Payson Golf Course.
Former Payson Police Officer Charlene Hunt, who has long participated in the holiday gift program, said the tournament fills a huge holiday void.
Payson fire captain Toby Waugh teamed with a family of golfers -- Brad Meyocks Sr., Brad Meyocks Jr. and Laura Meyocks -- and carded a 55, finishing at the top of the 100-team field.
Brad Sr. is a longtime local golfer, Brad Jr. is a starring member of the Payson High School team and Laura has was won many Payson Women's Golf Association tournament titles.
The foursome outplayed runnerup Tonto Apache No. 6. team of Gila County Sheriff Mike Johnson, Virgil Cly, Kato Cly and Milton Harper. The foursome finished at 60.
The Tonto Apache Tribe was a huge supporter of the tournament, entering six teams.
A Payson Golf Course squad made up of Pine-Strawberry firefighter Lynn Larned, Dave Herbert, John Orr and Ted Gyire took third with a 61.
PGC owner Harry Parsons was expected to play, but bowed out of the competition to work the tournament.
The tournament got off to a roaring start Friday at PGC with a no-host cocktail hour and barbecued steak dinner cooked up by Albert and Charlene Hunt.
Following the meal, the tournament sponsors held their annual public safety officer auction, which they have tabbed "The Wheel of Misfortune."
Each three-person team entered in the tournament had the opportunity to bid on a public safety officer -- selected by spinning a Las Vegas-type gambling wheel -- to fill out a foursome for the following day's tournament.
Among the 21 public safety officers on the auction block spinning wheel were Payson Police chief Gordon Gartner, Payson Fire Chief Marty DeMasi and Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores.
The benefit earned more $11,500, which will be used to purchase Christmas gifts next December for needy youth around the Rim Country.
The Public Safety/Christmas for Kids committee is shouldering a much bigger burden this year because Santa's List, an organization that previously helped with fund-raising, turned over responsibilities to the Christmas for Kids committee.
"We are going to have to do much more," Christmas for Kids committee member and golf tournament director Payson Police Detective Matt Van Camp said.
He estimated that as many as 130 families could sign up with Payson Public Safety for Christmas assistance.
The Public Safety committee's efforts to earn more money for the upcoming holidays began at the Independence Day celebration at Green Valley Park.
During the GVP fireworks show, public safety officers hosted a snack bar.
For more information or to make a donation, call Van Camp at (928) 474-5177, ext. 251.