Guests have high-caliber fun at NRA fundraising banquet Milford. The Pike chapter raised a record $59,600 in just one night, netting $26,200 for the philanthropic foundation that supports firearms training, safety education, and Second Amendment rights.
From left: Anita Richards, treasurer of the Pike County Friends of NRA; Mike Barth, chair; and Gail Shuttleworth, volunteer (Photo by Marilyn Rosenthal)
By Marilyn Rosenthal Two hundred and twenty happy, high-energy people filed into the Best Western ballroom in Matamoras on May 8 for the ninth annual Pike County Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA) fundraising dinner. The guests shared their passion for shooting sports, the Second Amendment, youth education, women-focused clinics, marksmanship training, range improvement, and firearms safety. There were competitive games to play, and guns and knives to be had in a live and lively auction. Included among the 24 auction items were a Quigley Ford Custom Long Range Scope, an ER Shaw Custom Rifle, and a Second Amendment blanket. People were delighted with the food at the newly decorated Best Western, and were in high spirits throughout the evening. Record revenue There are approximately 1,120 Friends of the NRA banquets held across the country. In the past 26 years, they have raised over $850 million, with more than $10.1 million raised in eastern Pennsylvania. The Pike County Friends of the NRA, chaired by Michael Barth, is not-for-profit organization that's part of the NRA Foundation, the NRA's philanthropic arm. Barth was pleased with the turnout and the $59,600 raised in just one night, which netted $26,200 for the Foundation. “The first banquet, nine years ago, made $3,750, so we have come a long way," Barth said. "Half of the money raised goes to national projects, and the other half goes to local Pike County projects such as 4-H, Boy Scouts, safety and training programs, and Women on Target," among other causes. Women take aim Many women are involved in shooting. “Women are the largest-growing sector of firearm owners," said Lorraine Crescimanno, who was at the banquet with her husband, Len. "They own pistols, rifles, and shotguns, not only for protection, but also for competition and hunting.” Crescimanno is a member of The Well-Armed Woman, a group that meets the last Wednesday of each month at Keystone Arms in Matamoras. Women are not only firearm owners. Gail Shuttleworth, a dedicated volunteer for the Friends of the NRA, is owner and manufacturer of CPA Rifles (custom single-shot rifles) in Dingmans Ferry. “This is a great part of the country to be building firearms," Shuttleworth said. She noted that Kahr Arms in Blooming Grove is a major and mainstream firearms manufacturer. “Its owner, Justin Moon, has brought his headquarters here and has created a lot of local jobs," she said. There is a lot of strong local support for the Pike County chapter. Attorney Kelly Gaughan, who is running for judge on the Pike County Court of Common Pleas, was there with her campaign manager, Allan Shatz. They are both NRA life members. There was also support from local businesses, including Irene’s Tailoring, Chris and Gina’s Café, Carini Cucina and Pizzeria, Keystone Arms, Pike County Generator, and many others. Emphasis on education The chapter puts major emphasis on educational programs for teens. Joe Caporusso, another super Friends volunteer, works with the Junior Trap Shooting group sponsored by the Matamoras Rod and Gun Club, which meets on the first Tuesday of the month, April through September. He beams when he talks about working with the kids, keeping them interested and safe, and bridging the transition to adult members of the NRA. The Junior Trap Instruction Program Leader is John Finkeldie, and the grant for the program is provided by the Friends group. Educational grants, especially local ones, are what keeps the Friends of the NRA and the NRA Foundation going. They recognize the impact that American youth has on the future of the of the shooting sports, which is why they allocate the most significant portion of grant monies to this vital sector. The NRA Foundation has funded more than 45,000 grants, becoming the country’s leading charitable organization supporting the shooting sports.