BELLEVILLE – A burning sun can’t deter burning passion.
Sky high temperatures weren’t enough to keep anyone off the greens for the annual Learning Foundation Golf Tournament.

The 17th annual Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation Golf Tournament teed off Wednesday at Trillium Woods Golf Course. The tournament is held annually in support of the Learning Foundation’s student emergency fund and the Len and Olive Black Memorial Fund.

“All the proceeds once again this year are going to benefit our student emergency fund,” said Maribeth deSnoo, executive director of the Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation.
The student emergency fund is a program individuals and families are able to utilize should they end up in a situation where they need assistance. “The purpose of the student emergency fund is immediate assistance to students by providing financial aid or gift in-kind support,” said deSnoo. “With the student emergency fund, it is a band-aid. It is not meant to provide long-term support, but is meant to address immediate need until longer-term solutions can be sought if that is necessary.”

During the 2016/2017 school year, 387 requests to the fund were made by people in need, resulting in close to $45,000 in funding used to help, a number that has gone up over the last school year. “This year alone [2017/2018] we have served 455 student emergency fund requests,” said Vicky Struthers, community development, special events and grants coordinator with the foundation. The tournament is considered the largest fundraiser the Learning Foundation holds to raise funding for the fund.

Historically, the tournament gets good reception from the community, with the 2017 tournament exceeding expectations. “It was a good turnout,” said Struthers. “We were very successful. We surpassed our fundraising goal. It’s always a mix of school board employees, vendors, and local contributors, so there’s a good dynamic.”

Last year’s tournament, said deSnoo, raised $36,000 with 104 golfers. Al Stitt, director of the Learning Foundation, is impressed with the continued and repeated success of the golf tournament. “Through our board of directors, and excellent staff we have, the tournament continues to grow in relationship to profits,” said Stitt. “To me, that’s the big thing. We try and stress that we’re here to help children, and have a good time.”
The 2018 tournament is expected to surpass the previous year, with 112 individuals registered to take part. A few of the sponsors for the tournament include Tom Belch & Sons Building Contractors, RBC Investments, Market High Advertising, and SJR Renovations.

This will be the first year SJR Renovations has taken part in the tournament. “We do work for the Hastings Prince Edward School Board, so it just felt right to give back to it as much as we could,” said Scott Reeks, owner. “I think it’s good for the board to things for the kids like that. It’s good for the community, and it’s nice to be a part of it.” The tournament is one of three big fundraisers that the Learning Foundation does to raise funds for the fund.

One of the major fundraisers is the Feed the Meter campaign held throughout Hastings and Prince Edward counties. Students also hold a silent auction in the spring in an effort to raise funds.
“Those are probably the three biggest,” said Stitt. After making it back to the club house following Wednesday’s tournament participants read letters of requests for assistance from students and families in need. “Student is currently homeless and working with school to obtain house,” read one. “She literally has the clothes on her back. Meeting today with youth hab/social services. Requesting funds for food and clothing.”

“We have a family with several children and needs money for food,” read another. “They have a series of unfortunate events that have led to this crisis. Family requested short-term support to get them through the next few days. Five children.” The fund would be used to fulfill requests such as these, and more. “The student emergency fund makes a huge difference,” said deSnoo. The poverty is so hidden here, it’s hard to believe we have students and families living in these circumstances.” Belleville has the sixth highest urban child poverty rate in Canada as noted in a report done by the Poverty Roundtable.

Source:Jonathan Ludlow/The Intelligencer

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