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Shinn column: Millbridge tees up for its students

CHINA GROVE ó In these parts, we’re fortunate to be able to play golf year-round.
But this time of year, especially, brings out a huge round of charity tournaments ó all for a good cause.
The third-annual Millbridge Elementary School golf tournament is set for Saturday, April 25, at the Warrior Golf Course in China Grove.
The shotgun start begins at 1:30 p.m., with lunch at noon sponsored by Dr. Dawn Wilhite and Patterson Farm.
Organizers Sabrina Caudill and Bev Frost hope to raise $10,000 again this year. The first year garnered $10,000 and last year netted $1,000 more.
But with the the current economy, they’re understandably nervous ó hopeful.
Thus far, proceeds from the tournament have purchased active boards for classrooms and a covered walkway at the front of the school.
These items have been purchased through the county’s matching grants program.
“When you’re a new school, people think the county gives you money for everything,” Sabrina says.
Although the school received basic furnishings, says Principal David Miller, “It takes years to build up the supplies you have.”
He adds, “At this point, we’re trying to buy a lot of technology.”
The PTA, which is sponsoring the golf tournament, has also purchased books for the library and tables and more.
Pretty good for two women who didn’t know a thing about golf when they started the tournament ó except for the fact that their husbands played.
They learned quick.
The pro at the Warrior probably chuckled after their first meeting, Sabrina admits.
But now Sabrina and Bev know all about mulligans and tee busters ó and they expect players to pony up for them.
“Show me the money!” Sabrina says.
Cost for the tournament is $55 per player, which includes lunch, gift bags and door prizes.
They hope to have all 144 available player slots filled.
Yet the real money to be made at the tournament is through sponsorships.
So far, two parents, Dr. Dawn Wilhite, an orthodontist, and her husband, Dr. Mike Wilhite, a dentist, have both donated $1,000 each from their businesses.
The students are also asking family and friends for sponsorships.
It’s a lot like any other fundraiser, Sabrina says, except this time around, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the school.
Right now, she and Bev are busy asking for items to fill those gift bags given by Farm Bureau ó and continuing to solicit sponsorships.
“We collect whatever we can get donated in lots of 144,” Sabrina says.
That includes golf towels from Carolina Logo, which provides the school’s spiritwear, as well as pens, snacks, water bottles, golf balls, tees, coupons, calendars, mouse pads and more.
Hole sponsorships are available at three levels: gold ($500), silver ($250) and bronze ($100).
Individual sponsorships are being taken for $5 and up.
“We’re not gonna turn away anything,” Sabrina says. “We need sponsors. Put that in bold!”
David played in the tournament the first year, before he was named principal. He says that most folks who play do have a connection to the school.”It’s a great tournament,” he says.
Players have commented on how well it’s organized, Sabrina says, and have returned to play.
While Bev and Sabrina focus on the tournament, their principal doesn’t lose sight of its ultimate goal.
“The whole reason we do this is to help the students,” he says.
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For more information about the Millbridge Elementary School golf tournament, call Sabrina Caudill at 704-856-1608 or Bev Frost at 704-855-7203.

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