Love INC Executive Co-Director Curt Jones sits at the third hole of Woodburn's OGA Golf Course, serenaded by a cacophony of squirrels chipping away at the ample hazelnut harvest in the orchard behind him.
For the past three years, Jones has been organization's emissary for the Hole in One Challenge, where golfers have an opportunity to win a new car from Hubbard Chevrolet if they sink the 181-yard shot as part of Love INC's annual golf tournament fundraiser.
"The first year I did it because they needed help and I was happy not to golf, but then I realized it was great because I was seeing everyone, and get to interact and connect with every golfer," Jones said. Anyone who sinks the shot doesn't technically get a free car, but rather a $30,000 credit toward an automobile of their choice. None of the 14 teams that played at the July 18 tournament came away with the honors, but there were a handful of close calls.
"Out of three years, the three closest shots I've seen today," Jones said. "One guy was two or three yards, it was close."
The tournament began in 2017 as an opportunity for the northern Marion County organization to extend another arm of its fundraising efforts, which includes its annual fall dinner gala and auction that serves as Love INC's primary fundraiser each year.
Businesses and individuals such as Long Brothers Lumber, GK Machinery Inc., Voget Meats, Do It Best and Sherwin Williams Paint Store provide raffle prizes for participants or serve sponsors, greeting teams at each hole throughout the 18-hole event.
The inaugural golf tournament attracted eight teams consisting of four players, and last year's event nearly doubled that with 15 groups participating. Organizers were hoping to continue that trend this year, but fell short of their goal of 20 teams.
"This year we only had 14, so we were kind of disappointed," Jones said. "But we have seven new teams that we haven't met before. We had nine from last year that really wanted to, but had genuine conflicts with their work schedules or internal things."
The new participants left Jones and organizers encouraged for next year's event, which is already scheduled for July 16, and the number of sponsors continuing to rise each year is an indication that local businesses are eager to promote the work that Love INC does for the community.
"Yes this is to raise money, but we also educate people about Love INC and what we're really doing," volunteer Rosetta Wangerin said.
Love INC provides assistance for community members in need of temporary help with bills, medical assistance, minor construction needs, hygiene products and more. The goal of the organization isn't to be a full-time charity service for a select group of people, but to be a safety net that provides one-time or short term assistance as a result of unforeseen circumstances.
Love INC of Northern Marion County
Address: 1560 Hardcastle Ave., Woodburn
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Tues-Fri.
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