MEDFORD, Ore. — Normally the annual golf tournament hosted by Santa's Elves raises funds to provide Christmas gifts to children who wouldn't otherwise receive any. They'd work with local schools to identify recipients.
But this year, the organizers looked to expand their impact and donate most of the proceeds to those most impacted by one of the worst fires in Oregon history.
"This year, our heart just called us to change it up a little bit," Randy Rudy, the president of Santa's Elves, said. "We're still going to help out some kids, but the majority of the money, almost all of it, is going to go to helping some people of the Almeda Fire."
Rudy, an eagle point resident, was moved to help the victims of the Almeda fire after touring the destruction of phoenix. He couldn't imagine what it was like for families who had lost everything. So rudy wanted to use the annual golf fundraiser to support those families.
"And then I drove through [Phoenix]. It's just horrible," Rudy said. "To live around it is one thing but to be directly involved in it-- we just felt like we gotta do our part."
As of Saturday evening, the Santa's Elves golf tournament had raised nearly $20,000 to help those in need. Even when the tournament filled up, donations still poured in. Golfers at the event enjoyed playing while knowing their time on the course was helping their neighbors rebuild.
"Truth be told when you have something that your playing for like this, it really doesn't matter how you play," Justin Ivens said. "You're just out here to have a good time."
A sentiment shared by other golfers who were motivated to come out and play a round for an important cause.
"This is what we're caring about, this is what we need to do as a community is come together and this is one way to do it is to come out, golf and have fun," Tyson Miltenberger said.
For those wanting to donate, checks can be mailed to Santa's Elves at 5724 Crater Lake Ave., Central Point, OR, 97502.