Four years ago, Rob Koch, a member of the St. John Neumann Catholic Church parish, asked Father Dave Sizemore if he could organize a golf outing to benefit the Big Walnut Friends Who Share food pantry.
Father Sizemore agreed that it was a good idea, and the first golf outing four years ago netted $250 for the local, all-volunteer social service agency.
But the story doesn’t end there. Each year the St. John Neumann golf outing has grown, raising $500 in its second year, $750 last year, and this year’s fourth annual event, held at Bent Tree Golf Club, raised $1,000 for Big Walnut Friends Who Share.
“It started as an idea to bring parishioners together and expand our footprint in the Big Walnut area,” Koch said last week when he stopped at the Friends Who Share store in Sunbury to present a check to director Larry Tornes and store manager Gene Wampler. “The golf outing is a little bit of discipleship, a brotherhood thing.”
Koch said the golf outing is not a one-person event; he said it would be impossible to organize without a host of sponsors, donations of items for a silent auction and raffle, and at least a dozen parish members who roll up their sleeves and volunteer to help run the event.
“It’s not just about numbers – the money we raised,” Koch said. “Only half of the folks who participated in the golf outing were members of our parish. It’s also an opportunity to let people know if they have an interest, if they’re looking for a church, what we do in the parish and how we do it.”
Sizemore said Koch deserves most of the credit for the success and growth of the golf outing over the past four years.
“Rob single-handedly organizes this thing each year,” Sizemore said. “I think it’s fantastic we can take a good cause and turn it into a family event. It helps take care of people in our community, it builds community, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Tornes said the donation comes at a critical time for the food pantry.
“A donation like this is especially important at this time of year,” Tornes said. “Even though area churches are having food drives, it’s the end of summer and the beginning of the school year and folks are just not thinking about donating to local food pantries. We spent $3,807 this past month buying food in addition to what the churches were bringing us.”
The Big Walnut Friends Who Share store is open to those in need on Wednesdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m., and during the evening on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
On the second Saturday of each month, senior citizens can visit the store from 10 a.m. to noon. Volunteers help out at the center from 9 to 11:30 a.m. every Monday.
To volunteer, to donate needed items or to make a financial contribution to the food pantry or to other Friends Who Share projects, call 740-965-9596.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093