The El Dorado Friends of NRA, the local nonprofit was recently recognized as the “most improved” chapter in Northern California.
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The honor came recently at a banquet in North Highlands for the more than 50 Northern California Friends of NRA committees.
“It was a great honor,” said Chuck Holland, 44, owner of Gold Country Bail Bonds and committee chairman. “There’s approximately 50 different committees throughout Northern California and for our region, we put on the No. 1 dinner.”
The dinner refers to the annual gala hosted by the local Friends of NRA chapter. Each year, the nonprofit group organizes a massive fundraising dinner. Money generated from the affair is returned to the community via grants.
“We’re focused on doing anything and everything that we can do to further the education of Second Amendment rights, especially in our youth,” said Holland.
For the committee’s chairman, involving and educating the county youth is one of the most important aspects of the group.
“The kids have to learn someway, somehow,” he said. “We need to foster responsible gun use and education in the kids from a young age.”
The 2010 dinner for which Holland and company were honored was the most successful to date.
The 2009 dinner, for example, brought in roughly 200 guests. Holland, who was voted chairman of the group in January 2010, inherited the task of organizing the 2010 event with only a few months to plan.
The end result?
“We took over for the 15th annual dinner and sat over 400 people,” he said. “We doubled the income. We also upped the ratio of gun-to-people at the dinner; for every seven people who went, there was a gun available to win in a raffle or buy.”
Past dinners struggled to reach the “high caliber” plateau, he said. In order to reach that mark, the dinner must bring in $25,000, which grants the committee access to a high caliber firearm to sell or auction off.
“Our dinner didn’t just make the high caliber mark, we more than doubled it, which is great for our community,” he said.
In Holland’s mind, the increased success can be attributed to several reasons.
“We made some changes for that dinner,” he said. “We changed our marketing, we changed our catering, we tried to get local youth involved and we partnered with the Food Bank, which we’re doing again this year.”
By joining up with the El Dorado County Food Bank, the local Friends of NRA committee was able to provide party-goers with a fully hosted bar. Tips in excess of $2,000 were then donated to the bank.
“They were one of the best, easiest partnerships I’ve ever put together,” he said. “It’s for a good cause.”
But committee co-chair Cole Beverly, 31, thinks the newfound success starts at the top.
“I think that the new blood in the committee has helped bring a lot of new drive to the group,” he said. “We’re bringing in a lot of new faces because of that.”
Funds raised are used for grants, which were distributed by the Northern California committees Jan. 16.
As the El Dorado County delegate, Holland is allowed one vote in deciding where the committees allot the grants.
Nearly $500,000 was given out by Northern California Friends of NRA committees last month.
Of the 64 grants awarded, none of them went to El Dorado County.
“The county didn’t get one red penny,” said Holland. “It’s very frustrating that none of our local law enforcement agencies or shooting clubs received any funds.”
This year, he aims to change that by meeting with representatives of the Sheriff’s Department and Placerville police.
“This is free money,” he said. “It’s there for the taking — they just have to apply.”
The 2011 dinner is set for April 16 at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $50 each and are currently on sale. A Polaris quad ATV will be auctioned off and every attendee under the age of 17 will receive a free raffle ticket to win a youth model firearm.
The group is also bringing in celebrity auctioneer Sam Neely, who has appeared in television shows such as “Deadwood.”
“He’s awesome,” said Holland of Neely. “He’s the most entertaining auctioneer you could ever find.”
This year Holland aims to have at least 400 people attend the dinner. But he certainly wouldn’t mind a few extra.
“If we hit 500 people, that would be spectacular,” said Holland.
For more information on the El Dorado Friends of NRA or its dinner, contact Holland at 530-622-6500.
E-mail Jim Ratajczak at [email protected] or call 530-344-5069.