Event helps hunters help kids

Published 1:24 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soup’s on! About 550 people dined on steak, shrimp, scallops and more during the fifth-annual Hunters Helping Kids Conservation Banquet and Auction on Saturday. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

Anyone walking into the Auction House in Washington on Saturday night may have believed he or she had walked into a sporting-goods store with a heavy emphasis on hunting and fishing equipment.
Although there was plenty of such equipment on hand, it was there as part of the fifth-annual Wildlife Conservation Banquet and Auction presented by the Pamlico chapter of Hunters Helping Kids, a national organization that exposes children to hunting, hunting safety and environmental stewardship.
“We grossed about $80,000,” said Willy Allen, chapter president, during a brief interview Monday.
Last year, the event raised $63,000.
Half the money raised remains in Beaufort County, with the remaining half going to the national HHK organization.
“Some of the guys didn’t think we’d do that good,” Allen said. “I was hoping to do more. Considering the economy, I am real pleased with what we brought in this year.”
Saturday night, Steve Williams, owner of the Auction House, and Lee Chevrolet were given plaques to recognize their financial support of HHK.
“We just wanted to give them a little recognition to let people know what these business owners have done for us,” Allen said.
Dale Dodson, HHK’s national director of operations, had high praise for the Pamlico chapter.
“This committee is hard-working. They do a lot in the community, and that’s what we’re all about,” Dodson said in a brief interview.
Dodson said HHK is a nonprofit organization without a political agenda and whose only goal “is to take kids hunting.”
“We just want to open the door to the outdoors to any kid who wants to go hunting,” Dodson told the audience of about 550 people who attended the event. “We have chapters in the state of Texas to upstate New York. Let me tell you something. You are in the biggest chapter in the nation, right here, tonight.”
That statement elicited applause from the crowd. But the size of the Pamlico chapter isn’t the only thing that separates it from other HHK chapters.
“We have something here we don’t have anywhere else. We have a junior committee,” Dodson noted.
Each year for the past five years or so, Allen, a hunting outfitter by trade, has opened his hunting lodge to about a half dozen children. Many of those children have physical and/or mental disabilities. Others have terminal cancer. Some are underprivileged children. The chapter also sponsors a girls’ hunt each year.
Area businesses, professional offices and individuals donated items for the auction, with some of them buying sponsorships.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

email author More by Mike