Mari Slocum, Past Exalted Ruler from Tempe Elks Lodge #2251, was one of the many Elks members who came to Payson this past weekend to participate in the local Elks Lodge’s annual Clothe-a-Child benefit golf tournament held at the Payson Golf Course. Winning the tournament was a Green Valley Lodge-sponsored foursome, with a Mesa Buckhorn team taking second.
Although a Green Valley Lodge-sponsored foursome was first and a Mesa Buckhorn team took second at the Elks’ Clothe-a-Child golf tournament, the real winners were the more than 1,200 children around Arizona that will receive much-needed clothing this school year.
The annual benefit tournament, which was played July 21 at Payson Golf Course, earned $6,650 for the program that purchases clothing for needy children.
The total marked a considerable increase over last year’s tournament earnings, which were just over $4,000. Payson Clothe-a-Child Tournament Director Becky Waer said the increase was because this year the tournament attracted a full field of 28 foursomes and last year it did not.
Also adding to the coffers was the 170-post tournament meals the local Elks Lodge served to entrants. Bingo and raffles were also part of the festivities.
Last year, Elks Lodges around the state, including the one in Payson, spent $142,000 purchasing and donating clothes for disadvantaged school-aged children.
“This is a statewide program, some of our clubs (donate clothes) at Christmas and some before the first day of school,” said Waer. “We do it through the schools, so it is kind of a confidential thing.”
Waer expects the number of children who receive assistance this upcoming year to be ever greater due to the state of the economy.
In Payson and around the state, teachers and school health professionals laud the Elks program saying there are children who might not feel the pride of slipping on new clothes for the first day of school or the holidays if it were not for the Clothe-a-Child benefit.
Waer also praises the spirit of giving the golfers bring to the tournament saying a few years ago the event was rained out early in the day, but nary an entrant asked that the entry fee be returned.
Last year in the Humboldt School District, members of the BPOE Lodge treated 40 children to $100 each to purchase apparel and shoes at a local Walmart.
In Laughlin, Nev., William Knowles was the recipient of the community’s Humanitarian Award for his work with Clothe-a-Child.
In Sedona, the lodge annually hosts a Clothe-a-Child benefit as well as a Toys for Tots giveaway.
At the Show Low Elks Lodge, local musicians hold an annual reunion to raise money for the local Clothe-a-Child program that benefits needy children around the White Mountains.
In Rushville, Ind., the local Elks club has been helping local children in need through the Clothe-a-Child program for more than 50 years.
The lodge distributes the clothes during the Christmas season when members take needy youths shopping at Walmart.
Each child gets a complete outfit from head to toe, including a warm winter coat and then a surprise item from the toy department.
The Rushville Lodge earns the money through a gala, dinner, auction and Monte Carlo evening.
Two years ago, the auctioneer became so caught up in the event that he auctioned his tie — which brought in $300.
In Payson and Pine, Waer is thanking all those who participated in the golf tournament, either as a player or sponsor, saying without their support, the crucial child assistance program could not continue.