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Golf tournament to benefit Habitat for Humanity

Instead of swinging hammers, the Thomson/McDuffie Habitat for Humanity is looking for some people willing to swing golf clubs. The inaugural Habitat for Humanity Golf Classic will be Saturday at Belle Meade Country Club.

The event is a four-man scramble with a lot of prizes, according to Habitat President, Linda Davis. Prizes awarded will total $2,500. Also, there will be a putting contest. And Stokes-Hodges GM is donating two cars, valued at $30,000 each, for two hole-in-one prizes. Breakfast will be provided by McDonald's and lunch is compliments of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

"We've done real well with sponsors," Ms. Davis said. "Everybody has been bending over backwards to help. What we really need now are golfers."

Former Thomson Bulldogs Verdun Wheeler, who is a linebacker for the University of Georgia, and Casper and Jasper Brinkley, who are linebackers for the University of South Carolina will be at the event. Other players from the two colleges who will be at the tournament are Fernando Velasco, Marcus Washington, Brandon Coutu, Brandon Isaac, and All-American wide receiver, Sidney Rue.

"I just asked Danny, and he jumped right on and said é─˛Yes sir, I'll be there,' and he'll do anything to help the community," said Chris Elliott, who is on the golf tournament committee. "...And Jasper and Casper both jumped right on board to help."

Footballs signed by all the players will be available in a silent auction after the tournament.

Proceeds from the tournament will go towards purchasing materials for the fifth Habitat house being built in Thomson. Ms. Davis said the house is for a single mom, who is employed at Thomson High School and has three children. She said the family's application has been approved for over two years.

The house will cost approximately $50,000 to build, but more money will be needed for a piece of property, Ms. Davis said. Several lots have been donated to the organization, but Ms. Davis said they are unusable until the road on which they are located is paved.

Families chosen to receive a house from Habitat are screened through a family selection committee. A family nurture committee counsels them on how to maintain a budget. The Habitat homeowner must make a down payment, a monthly mortgage payment, and put 300 hours sweat equity into the construction of their house.

"They don't have to be credit-worthy, because they aren't... But they do have to have a job... It's not a hand-out, it's a helping hand," Ms. Davis said.

The organization's president said many of their applicants "live in deplorable conditions." She also said all of their recipients have "done everything they are supposed to do, because they are just so thrilled to have a house."

"The neat thing is the kids, having a safe place to come home to every day after school, not to have rats running through it or holes in the walls," she said.

Thomson's first Habitat house was completed in 1997, three years after it was begun. Ms. Davis said she receives several calls every week from people needing homes, especially the elderly. Habitat's funds only come from fundraisers, such as the golf tournament, and from mortgage payments on past houses. When a chapter builds 20 houses, they become self-sufficient. For the people in Thomson, Ms. Davis wishes she could do more.

"We've built only four houses in 12 years, so it seems like a slow process for the need that's out there," she said. "I just wish McDuffie County could get on the ball more like they do with Relay for Life."

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, or the golf tournament, contact Ms. Davis at 706-595-8421. Breakfast for Saturday's tournament at Belle Meade will be served beginning at 7 a.m. The tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. Playing cost is $400 per team, or $100 per individual. All donations are tax deductible.

Web posted on Thursday, June 8, 2006

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