The Lake Cumberland Friends of the NRA will be making some new friends this weekend — particularly among the next generation.
The organization which supports the National Rifle Association (NRA), the much-publicized advocacy group for gun rights, will be holding its annual banquet on Saturday at The Center for Rural Development. It’s a major fundraiser for the group, and a time to trumpet some of their biggest accomplishments — such as raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profit causes throughout the state, including several right here in Pulaski County.
“It’s an opportunity for supporters of Friends of the NRA to get together to celebrate what the NRA has meant to them and to the community, and to raise money for the Friends of the NRA,” said A.C. Donahue, a local attorney in his third year chairing the Lake Cumberland branch of the organization.
“Our mission is to support the future of the shooting sports,” he added. “... We in Kentucky made the decision that the future of shooting sports should be primarily invested in youth.”
Donahue explained that each Friends of the NRA committee across the United States raises money that goes to the NRA Foundation, the charitable arm of the NRA. Half of the money is dedicated back to the states it came from, and that state’s committee can decide where that money goes.
“We’ve done a lot to try to help the Friends of the NRA and are growing the organization locally,” said Donahue, who noted that the Lake Cumberland committee has 25 members. “It’s our 18th year doing this. The last two years, we’ve had exceptional growth, and in the coming year, we’re looking to be even larger.”
In Kentucky, $300,000 was sent back to be distributed among a variety of non-profit causes out of 95 applicants reviewed by the various committees.
“We will be awarding a big check to at least three very local schools,” said Donahue.
Those are Somerset High School, which will see its trap team receive approximately $5,097 worth of assistance; the Southwestern Junior ROTC air precision rifle team, for $4,523; and the Somerset Christian School archery team, for $2,538.
Other Lake Cumberland area schools and clubs — such as Boys Scouts or 4-H — were also taken care of by the local Friends of the NRA chapter, including those in Casey, Laurel, Lincoln and Rockcastle Counties.
The checks themselves are more ceremonial than anything, however. Instead of money, Donahue said that the non-profits selected will actually be receiving useful items that they’ve picked out, totaling the amounts in cash listed above.
“In the application process, they’re not asking for money, they’re asking for stuff,” said Donahue. “You put on there, ‘This is why we want the grant,’ and go through a catalog (of various shooting sport items). The trap team can see all the various shotgun shells available and say, ‘We want 20 flats of this shotgun shell, and 10 of this shotgun shell, and then we want to order this shotgun, and this many clay pigeons’ and that’s literally what we will send them.”
Applications each year typically begin in August and must be received by November 30. Those wishing to apply can do so by visiting the website friendsofnra.org.
“It’s not something you have to complete in one sitting,” said Donahue, who noted the application is designed so that you can fill out part of it, stop, and return to it later if desired.
The Lake Cumberland Friends of the NRA banquet will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Center. Tickets are $30 for an individual, $70 for a pair of tickets. There will be a live auction and silent auction and gaming events.
“That’s how we raise our money,” said Donahue, who takes pride in the mission of the Friends of the NRA, and what it’s able to do for the area’s youth.
“You start adding the figures up, that’s a significant amount of money we’re bringing back for the kids,” he said. “That’s what is crazy exciting for me. To understand the impact we’re having on the community is very, very exciting.”