The Ponoka Kinsmen live auction fundraising supper has always been a big money raising event but this year’s had special significance as money brought in is going to benefit the Tom Hamilton Memorial Hill, located in the Southwest Industrial Park.
After the untimely death of Tom Hamilton, himself a member of the Ponoka Kinsmen and advocate for the toboggan hill, the Kinsmen decided to name the hill after him. The fundraiser, held Saturday, April 18 at the Kinsmen Community Centre, became a small celebration of Hamilton’s efforts and it showed in the donations.
Kinsmen president Ken Groot was impressed with the turnout and donations this year. Not only did people make large donations they were also ready to place their bids on items.
The toboggan hill project was started last fall and after this fundraiser the club will be able to expand greatly on the hill, said Groot. Besides adding more material and grass, he says they intend to add a variety of paths for sleds.
“Once we get that all done, we’re going to put a light pole on the top and then we’re going to put ‘Tom Hamilton Memorial Hill’ on the top there too. The light will always be on up there,” explained Groot.
“It only made sense that we did something like that,” he added.
Interest was quite large and the live auction brought in more than $30,000. Final numbers were not available at production time.
As part of the evening, Hamilton’s wife Amanda also made a special donation to three groups. She presented three $2,500 cheques: first was to Robson Valley Search and Rescue, the second and third to the Lacombe and Ponoka Parent Link Centres, respectively.
Amanda said the money was from the Kinsmen Club and she was still collecting other donations received over recent weeks. She is grateful for the support the community has provided.
“I have the entire community that grew up with him . . . Everybody’s grieving with me,” said Amanda.
Support has been so strong that the Kinsmen’s Go Fund Me online campaign has also brought in $7,760 in pledges.
Hamilton’s father Jim was proud to be a part of the fundraising experience. He had the high bid for advertising space on the back of the Kinsmen phone book. Jim said he intends to use it to put a picture of his son on there. Jim added naming the toboggan hill after Hamilton will be important for his children, who will never get to know him.
While the Kinsmen club has a relatively small number of members, support from the community has always been strong. Groot says anyone interested in joining can find that the Kinsmen’s main goal is to benefit the community.
Fundraising is one part of their goal, but he said it is also an opportunity to have fun together as a team.