It was raining golf balls at the Astoria Golf and Country Club as Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific held its fifth annual Golf Ball Drop Saturday.
The Golf Ball Drop is a fundraiser for the nonprofit service organization.
This year 1,800 balls were sold for $5 each, raising $9,000. The balls were dropped from a helicopter onto the golf clubs driving range as spectators and participants gathered to watch. The ball closest to the hole won a prize for its owner. The helicopter and pilot were provided by Precision Helicopters of Newberg (in a complicated deal with Brim Aviation and the Columbia River Bar Pilots).
Three balls wound up in the hole, a tie, so a drawing was held. A hat was borrowed and Greg Peterson, Astoria Golf and Country Club president, drew for the winner.
Jon Englund won the first place, a package from The Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach. Six other prizes were awarded.
Preceding the ball drop was a free kidsgolf clinic put on by the clubs pros and other members. Many of the children participating had never hit a golf ball before in their life. Astoria Middle schooler Henry Meiners said, "This is fun," about his first time golfing. He was accompanied by his uncle, Darwin Meiners.
Five-year-old Jeffy Kuhl in his Spiderman cap was serious about hitting the ball. After some instruction from his father, Steve Kuhl, he addressed the ball, hauled off and hit it downrange,
The money raised by Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific supports four different programs.
Operation School Bell provides new clothing to children whose attendance and performance at school have been adversely affected by lack of adequate school clothing. The clothing supply typically includes a coat, sweatshirt, jeans, shirt, socks, underwear and shoes. Children receiving the clothing are recommended by school principals and counselors.
The Athletic Participation Program covers the cost of athletic fees and sports equipment required by high school and middle school students in financial need. Sports participation helps keep students engaged and motivated to stay in school, and in many cases this assistance means the difference between participating in sports and sitting on the sidelines.
The Duffel Bag Program was born of a need to assist local children as they move from their homes into foster care. These children are typically departing an environment that requires them to leave all possessions behind, and the duffel bags they receive contain items that help ease the transition to foster homes. Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific packs the bags with a blanket, pajamas, socks, underwear, a teddy bear, books and basic toiletries such as toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Cinderellas Closet makes gowns available to recommended teenage girls for special occasions like the high school prom, and charges a nominal $10 fee for each gown borrowed. The fee covers the cost of cleaning the gown on its return. Each year, this program makes it possible for several local high school girls to take part in those very special events that otherwise may have been financially out of reach. During the 2010-11 school year, 23 teens received dresses through this program.
These programs address childrens needs that are not being met by other programs in the community.
Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific has about 90 members is are looking for volunteers.
For more information check the leagues website at www.assistanceleaguecp.org.