By Kyla Hurt
The West Central IL Friends of NRA (NRA is the acronym for National Rifle Association of America) recently held their annual fundraising event and auction. Founded in 1992, the Friends of NRA was also celebrating 25 years in existence. The slogan for Friends of NRA is “Fundraising for the Future of the Shooting Sports.” According to friendsofnra.org, “The NRA Foundation is the country’s leading charitable organization in support of the shooting sports, having awarded thousands of grants in support of educational programs since its inception in 1990. Since its establishment in October 1992, Friends of NRA events provide participants an opportunity to support the charitable goals of The NRA Foundation and enjoy the camaraderie of other law-abiding gun owners.” West Central IL Friends of NRA (WCIFNRA) member Tyler Aring noted that Trevor Lahey locally chairs the group, while Tanell Anders and John Stewart are secretary and treasurer, respectively. Aring said that many events are held throughout the year, with it being “all for shooting sports. One hundred percent goes to youth shooting sports and half of that stays right here locally.” Per friendsofnra.org, since its inception, Friends of NRA has “held close to 20,000 events, reached over 3.7 million attendees and raised more than $740 million for The NRA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization … Committee volunteers are appointed to State Fund Committees to make recommendations for local grant funding in areas such as youth firearm safety and education programs, hunter education, range development and improvement, women’s training seminars, and wildlife conservation efforts. Recognizing that America’s young people represent the future of the shooting sports, State Fund Committee grants are frequently given to youth programs, allocating more than 50 percent of grant monies to this important area.”
One goal of Friends of NRA is to help “safeguard programs across the nation that prepare today’s generations to be tomorrow’s guardians of the Second Amendment.” The evening included various games and raffles including a “kill it and grill it” game, in which the winner was awarded a hog, grill and rifle, and also a few gun safe raffles to win a gun safe stocked with guns. There was also a ‘ladies’ table,’ at which one could buy a rose for a chance to win many of the donated items on the table. Local and area supporters, both individuals and businesses alike, were welcomed and thanked, including a moment when all the Veterans were asked to gather near the front podium for acknowledgement and to express gratitude for each Veteran’s service. The Pledge of Allegiance and invocation were spoken prior to dinner and the beginning of the live auction fundraising.
Information given out that night included a summation of “where your money goes.” The document stated, “Over $777,000 dollars have been spent on 232 projects in the Southern/Central IL area in the past 36 months through the 23 Southern/Central IL Friends of NRA committees.” It continued, “with over 80 percent of these grants funding youth shooting programs through 4-H, Boy Scouts, local youth shooting teams, gun clubs, Women on Target” and more. “No monies raised through this program are spent for political purposes or lobbying.” For more information on Friends of NRA, search “West Central Illinois Friends of the NRA” on Facebook or visit www.wcifnra.org.