Golfers raise funds to improve childhood nutrition

Mike Sirotkik grills up the goodness on behalf of hungry golfers at last week's fundraiser. NATE SMELLE PHOTO

BY NATE SMELLE
The VOICE

Teams of community-minded golfers showed up at the Peninsula Lakes Golf Club early on Tuesday morning last week to take part in the annual Sobeys Charity Golf Tournament. Now in its fifth year, the tournament has raised some $40,000 for Niagara Nutrition Partners (NNP) since its inception. When Fonthill Sobeys owner and tournament organizer, Ron Kore, came up with the idea to host the event, he set himself a fundraising goal of $50,000 in five years. Considering this year’s tournament had 138 golfers signed up, NNP Program Manager, Anne Kirkpatrick said she was confident Kore will reach his goal—and, in fact, just before press-time Kore confirmed that this year’s event raised some $18,000.

Striving to improve access to healthy food for local children and youth, the NNP provides nutrition programs in elementary and secondary schools, and community-based programs, serving some 16,000 students throughout the Niagara Region. As one of two major fundraisers that the NNP relies on to fund their programs, the Charity Golf Tournament, said Kirkpatrick, is important because it builds the organization’s ability to help others.

“It’s really the Breakfast Gala in May and this tournament here that contribute the most to the pot of money that we can spend on programs to help children,” said Kirkpatrick.

“Our other funds come from making grant applications, soliciting donations and things like that. There are many children who benefit from our programs and we need to continue being there for them.”

Thanks to Kore and his team at Sobeys, Kirkpatrick said the tournament has become like a “well-oiled machine.” Every year she said more and more people are coming out to support the cause. Once again, the local business community has offered a great deal of assistance with the event as well. For example, this year local business owners donated 93 prizes for the silent auction.

“It’s a really great crew that comes together for this,” she said.

“We had lots of golfers who have been here every year since the tournament started. This is the fifth anniversary so it’s great to see so many of the golfers who continue returning year after year. It’s wonderful to see so many new faces here this year as well.  Many of our volunteers are returnees as well.”

Mike Sirotkik is a culinary teacher with the Niagara Catholic District School Board. This was the third year he has been volunteering his skills on the grill to help make the tournament a success. As a teacher, he said, he has seen how the demand for the NNP’s programs is growing. Recognizing that research shows how good nutrition helps to enhance students’ ability to learn, and that many children are going to school hungry because of poverty, Sirotkik sees the tournament as a great way to improve the lives of students in Niagara.

“It’s all for a great cause,” he said.

“That’s the main reason I’m here — it’s what it is for and what it is all about. I volunteer and give my time to the community I try to give back as much as I can. My students also help with the Niagara Nutrition Partners’ Breakfast Gala, so we have a very good partnership going with them.”

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