Shooting clays was about more than just good sportsmanship and a good time on Saturday.
“We’re having a blast,” Judy Bennett said.
Members of seven Rotary clubs in Manatee County and members of the community came together Saturday morning at the Ancient Oak Gun Club, 16800 State Road 64 E., to shoot some clays and raise money for a couple of causes.
Bennett had never shot a gun until she knew she would be attending Saturday’s fundraiser, she said. So she made sure to get a lesson, and on Saturday morning she comfortably held a shotgun as she called, “pull.”
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And she hit a few, too.
“But the wonderful part of Saturday’s event was not shooting clays, but raising money to help children in Manatee County and in Guatemala,” Bennett said.
The first project that the seven clubs have come together on is to build three full-accessible, Americans with Disability Act-compatible playgrounds in Manatee County. Those playground will be built at GT Bray, Buffalo Creek and Tom Bennett parks.
GT Bray will be the first playground to get the accessible playground, with the plans and designing already in the works. The clubs hope to break ground at the beginning of 2017.
“On its own, it’s a new experience for the clubs to be working together on such a big project,” Bennett said.
The clubs will be raising $500,000 to build each of the playground.
Escuelas Hermanas, the Sister Schools Program, is the Manatee Riverside Rotary Club’s International project, which is currently building a high school in San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala, and will then begin construction on a health clinic. San Juan Chamelco is a rural part of Guatemala, nestled on top of a mountain, where descendants of the Mayan civilization live.
Students from sister schools Wakeland Elementary, Johnson Middle and Southeast High participate in the trips. Some students will also be writing letters in Spanish to students at the sisters schools in Guatemala.
Makenna Stewart, granddaughter of Escuelas Hermanas coordinator Eddie Robinette, has been on trips to San Juan Chamelco.
“They were so nice, even though we were strangers,” Makenna said.
Seeing a Third World country was very different, the 13-year-old Johnson Middle School student added.
“But they just so welcoming,” Makenna said. “They fed us. The food was incredible. Everywhere we went people just fed us so much food.”
Proceeds from Saturday’s shoot, estimated to have been $3,500, will be split evenly between the two projects.
Allen Langford of the Palmetto Rotary Club was enjoying his first visit to the Ancient Oak Gun Club. In addition to raising money for the projects, getting to go shooting made it a great event, he said.
“We do a lot of quail hunting up in Georgia,” Langford said.
Over at a different shooting station, Andy Varga and his group were also enjoying the unique fundraising activity.
“I recommend it to all civic organizations to bring business and for exposure to different activities in the Manatee County area,” Varga said. “It’s also good exposure to gun safety.”