Birdies for books

Maryville Kiwanis preps for annual golf tournament

By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

Golfers teeing off on April 2 at Green Meadow Golf and Country Club should have a scholarly attitude. The Maryville Kiwanis Foundation tournament will be as much about books and building character as it is about birdies and bogies.

Club president Michael Morrell said the golf tournament is one of two main fundraisers the group conducts. Their efforts support various charities throughout the community such as leadership training for middle school students at Camp Wesley Woods and donating books to Blount County children through the Imagination Library program.

The exciting part of the process is putting together the sponsorships and seeing club members’ enthusiasm for the tournament, Morrell said.

Tara Rasher with Maryville Kiwanis said last year was her first golf tournament. "The members of the club knew they were going to have fun, but for a good cause," she said.

Rasher said that even for club members and supporters of the club who don’t play golf there are still ways to get involved. "Everyone has something to do. We are putting together goodie bags. There’s always something for members to do," she said.

Morrell said the Imagination Library has become a bigger project than it was in the past because more children need books. The Maryville Kiwanis members knew they had to set a higher goal for this year’s golf tournament because the number of youngsters needing books has grown. Sevierville native and country music legend Dolly Parton started Imagination Library to promote literacy.

"All the counties around us had started it, and, with Sevierville being our neighbor, we felt we needed to get on board," said Morrell. "When you increase the awareness of family for the importance of books and reading, they do better in school and life," he said.

Morrell said the beneficiaries of the golf tournament are community organizations. "We have a different organization come about twice a month to pick up a check. We want our members to know we are supporting the community," he said.

Another high profile program the Kiwanis Club tournament supports is a Leadership Adventure Camp for middle school students held at Camp Wesley Woods in Walland.

"We bring in dignitaries and business owners, people in the know, to instruct them on leadership skills. They put together a presentation on something they can take to school as a service project," Morrell said.

But before any donations can be made for Imagination Library books or to fund projects like the leadership camp, club members have to raise the funds necessary to make those donations, said Morrell. That’s where fundraisers like the golf tournament and the annual pancake breakfast in November are essential, he said.

Morrell said the tournament is limited to 80 to 100 golfers. "Anyone is welcome to join, and any team is welcome," he said. "Hole sponsorship is unlimited, and our goal this year is $27,000. A hole sponsorship is $250 and a major sponsorship is $1,000."

Bob Russell with the Kiwanis Club said the 2006 gross revenue was $17,500 and this year’s goal is $27,000.

"We’re doubling the number of corporate sponsors and increasing by 20 the number of hole sponsors and going up from 72 players to 88 players," he said. "It’s a significant challenge we put before us. The main reason, we’re going into the third year with Imagination Library. As more kids sign onto to program, Maryville Kiwanis fund raising goal goes up."

Russell said club members and others interested in helping programs like Imagination Library should get involved. "We really need everyone to step up. The community has been good to us," he said.

Other programs Kiwanis Foundation donations support include the Read for Success Program, the Community Food Connection, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Maryville College scholarships, Volunteer Girls State, American Legion Boys State, Salvation Army, Blount Adult Literacy Council, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Youth Leadership Blount, A Secret Safe Place, Pellissippi State Technical Community College scholarships and Habitat for Humanity.

The April 2 event at Green Meadow Country Club begins with an 11:30 a.m. lunch, registration at 12 p.m. and a shotgun start at 1 p.m.

For information on sponsoring the tournament, sponsoring a hole or playing on a team, contact the Kiwanis Club via the web at mkiwanis@charter.net or by calling 865-983-7400.

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