In the hole, please

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Community Editor

Volunteers with the Greater Pamlico Area Chapter of the American Red Cross are using golf balls to provide relief for disaster victims through the nonprofit’s first-ever New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.
The ball drop will take place at noon Thursday at Warren Field Airport when up to 1,000 golf balls will be dropped — from a helicopter hovering some 100 feet off the ground — onto a “green” with a carefully placed hole. The ball that comes closest to the hole, or goes in it, wins the top prize.
To participate in the ball drop, individuals must complete an official entry form and make a donation of $25 per golf ball to the chapter. Entry forms may be found at the chapter’s main office on Market Street or at Frank’s Pizza, both in Washington. An entry form may be filled out online at the nonprofit’s Web site, After completing the entry form, an individual is assigned a numbered golf ball for each $25 donation.
The three participants whose golf balls end up closest to the pin win cash prizes — up to $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third. The winners will be announced at the airport after judging is completed.
Entries are due by 4 p.m. Wednesday, and participants must be 18 years old or older to enter.
As of Monday afternoon, the chapter had received about 700 entries and assigned numbered golf balls accordingly, said chapter Executive Director Lorrie Beach.
If the nonprofit sells all 1,000 allotted golf balls, it will raise $20,000 for its disaster services.
“The money will be used to take care of families that have lost their homes to fires,” Beach said. “It definitely helps out.”
To put the ball drop in perspective, Beach said, the revenue generated by the purchase of two golf balls will help house a family of four for one night, money raised from the sale of eight golf balls will help cloth a disaster victim and funds raised by the sale of 50 golf balls will cover all of the basic necessities, including food, clothing and shelter, for a family of four.
Beach said the donations are especially important this time of year, which is considered fire season.
“We’ve already had a rash (of fires),” she said.
The idea for the ball drop came to Beach from a Red Cross chapter in Wisconsin. That chapter held a similar ball drop during a golf tournament held during the summer.
“I thought it would be even cooler to do on New Year’s Eve,” she said.
Former executive director and current volunteer Sandy Fenn said the community has embraced the ball drop.
“People think it’s unique and different,” she said.
Fenn said the public is invited to watch the ball drop at the airport. The nonprofit will provide hot chocolate, hot apple cider and donuts for the event.
Beach said she hopes the event catches on and is held every New Year’s Eve for years to come, especially for the sake of disaster victims.
“Even with how bad the economy is, people need to realize that some have it a lot worse,” she said.