LACONIA — The Laconia Rod and Gun Club has been raising funds to benefit local children for decades. Recently, the private club, which is registered as a nonprofit organization, decided to also help the elderly residents of the region. Along with this doubled effort has come a boost in fundraising to match. This year, the organization raised more than $15,000, all of which went to benefit local people.
The bulk of the fundraising came from the Santa Jam, a holiday party that the club has been throwing for 43 years. The party features a live auction, a gift basket raffle, a 50-50 raffle and a bake sale.
“Just for the day of Santa Jam, we raised $8,297,” said Ron Judd, president of the club. The club’s other big fundraising event is their “Mega Meat Bingo,” which raised $6,465. Then there are other, smaller events throughout the year, all aimed at raising money that can be given back to their community.
One of those efforts is their “Breakfast with Santa,” which invites local children and their parents to visit the club, enjoy pancakes and sausage and meet with Santa Claus, who gives each child an age-appropriate gift. The club also helps provide winter clothes, toys and food baskets for families that need them.
Two years ago, the club expanded its outreach efforts with the “Helping Heat the Elderly” program, in partnership with the Community Action Program. While CAP has a program that will provide winter fuel assistance for people under a certain income threshold, the Rod and Gun Club’s program steps in to provide heating fuel for people who make just above that threshold. CAP administers the program, the Rod and Gun Club provides the funding.
Then there are assorted other ways that the club’s fundraising benefits the community. Members will do “secret shopping,” where they pay for families’ goods as they are approaching the check-out. They also give gift cards to Lakes Region Community Services, donate to Saint Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, provide cleaning supplies and children’s toys to the Belknap House, and give out gift cards to members of the Laconia Senior Center.
“None of this could happen without the local businesses, and members of the club,” Judd said. “There’s a lot of people who work very hard to make this happen.”
“It’s good for the community. There’s a lot of people out there who aren’t as fortunate as others. We have a lot of great people in the club, a lot of charitable people.”