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Young Professionals start work on Secret Santa project

CHESAPEAKE — They want to get a jump on Christmas this year. But when the Young Professionals talk about holiday shopping, they aren’t thinking about themselves.

Rather, they’re focused on seeing how many children in Lawrence County they can reach out to this Christmas.

It was this past October when the Chamber of Commerce organization did a yeoman’s job rescuing the county’s Secret Santa program that had been hit hard by the economic downturn.

In only six weeks the Young Professionals brought in $24,000 in cash and $20,000 in in-kind donations to get presents, plus winter clothing, for 412 children.

This year, the group is starting early in its fundraising efforts with the goal of helping out more.

On Saturday the YP will sponsor a mini golf scramble at the Chesapeake driving range, across from Chesapeake High School.

There will be three age divisions for teams of two: players 12 years old and under; 12 and over; and mixed for a parent-child team.

The scramble will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the fee is $10 per player.

“We’re hoping to have a good turnout,” Casey Baker of the Young Professionals said. “All funds will go toward the Secret Santa. We haven’t nailed down a specific goal, but we spent so much time last year collecting names we would like to devote more resources to fundraising.”

This time the Young Professionals hope to get some help in getting the names of as many children as possible.

“If we can partner with others in the community, ideally with a school (to get names), we can devote more resources to raising funds rather than having to split our efforts,” Baker said.

Another fundraiser is on tap for Aug. 7, when the YP will sponsor a Cornhole tournament during the day and a movie that night. A location for this event has not yet been chosen.

The Young Professionals meet the first Thursday of each month at the Chamber of Commerce headquarters at The Point.

It is open to anyone from the Tri-State who is 39 years or younger. In the past six months the organization has grown by 25 percent, Baker said.

“I think people understand what an opportunity there is,” he said. “People really want to become involved in making the community better.”