Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter champions gathered Oct. 18 at TopGolf in Rogers for the inaugural A Round for the Kids: A TopGolf Tournament. Sponsors of the fundraiser included Kimberly-Clark, Hormel Foods, PepsiCo, Bayer and Smith & Davis Orthodontics. Dr. Curt Hedberg of Hedberg Allergy & Asthma, an NWACS board member, served as honorary chairman of the event.
More than 175 people attended the socially distanced, covid-cautious event in support of the shelter. The two teams from Bayer took first and third place, while the team from Central Garden and Pet placed second.
"I was so pleased to see such a great turnout for the event," says Hedberg. "While covid-19 has hampered our ability to fundraise for the shelter, it certainly hasn't decreased the need for the services provided by the shelter. In fact, we've seen a sharp increase in the number of children referred to our care since the beginning of September."
Shelter leaders say the increase correlates with the return of children to school this fall. With the coronavirus restrictions limiting movement over the spring and summer, many children were stuck at home without access to trusted adults like teachers, counselors and other school staff members. These adults are typically the first to see signs of abuse and neglect in children and to report them. As the children have returned to school, they are once again under the watchful eyes of these trusted adults who are hearing many stories of what these children endured during the lockdown.
"Our staff is amazing. They have kept the doors of the shelter open, 24/7, throughout the pandemic, so we can be here for any child who needs us," say Rick Brazile, interim executive director. "They have never wavered in their dedication to the kids. I am so proud to lead this team."
NWACS serves as a 24-hour emergency shelter for children who are victims of abandonment, abuse or neglect. While at the shelter, the children receive the basics of care including meals and snacks, a warm bed and access to personal hygiene supplies. However, the care goes far beyond the basics. During their stay, the children also receive medical and dental care, they attend school on-site, they receive counseling, and they have fun with activities and outings.
Next up on the fundraising front for the shelter is New Year's Eve: Local Edition presented by General Mills and chaired by Andrea Albright of Walmart. Organizers say the virtual event is set for Dec. 31 and is free for all who are looking for a fun and safe way to celebrate the end of 2020 with their family and friends at home. The evening will include local entertainment, fun games and activities for the entire family, and challenges throughout the evening for several chances to win amazing prizes. Also available is a party box for four which will include everything your family needs to celebrate New Year's Eve -- snacks, drinks, games, decorations and a few surprises. All proceeds from the purchase of party boxes directly benefit the children in care at the shelter. For more information, visit nwacs.org/events.
Carla Laing, development manager, says the nonprofit had to be creative in planning a benefit that followed social distancing guidelines. "We're still open. We're still taking care of kids. Our expenses are the same, but our income has dropped due to covid."
Those teeing off at TopGolf to top off shelter coffers included Emily Reynolds, Andrea Albright, Jess Dinkla, Ann and Mike Thiele, Kiley Williams, Martin Ojeda, Sara Telzerow, Marcus Tabot, Alex Dins and Robert Merkel, Ryan Denner, Jim Sliker, Tom McDonald and David Rieske.
For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.
Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]
At a Glance
A Round for the Kids
Who: Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter
What: Children’s Shelter supporters played golf for a serious cause.
When: Oct. 18
Where: TopGolf in Rogers
Next: New Year’s Eve: Local Edition, Dec. 31
Information: (479) 795-0719 or nwacs.org