Only a month away from the 14th Annual Senior Meals Golf Tournament, the June 16 tourney is in high need of golfers. The shortfall is concerning for Leisa Cotten, senior nutrition director at Catholic Community Services, the agency which oversees senior meals program.

Plenty of open slots remain, too many for Cotten’s liking. Cost to play is $50 per golfer and includes greens fees, cart, lunch and raffles. Normally, the tournament roster is nearly filled by this time.

And that couldn’t come at a more inopportune time — not that any time would be — with this region’s economy still lagging from the collapse that seems like a lifetime ago.

Any threat that could potentially affect the service provided by this crucial, viable and worthwhile program, should be alarming to us all. About 150 seniors benefit from the program’s nutritionally balanced meals, delivered to each individual’s door by volunteers.

Often the volunteers who deliver the meals are the only source of outside contact for many of our homebound and disabled elderly. Many “clients” are not able to cook or stand for periods of time, and for some, the meals offer the their only form of nutrition.

We know times are tough. As federal funding for social programs continue to dwindle, these programs are annually forced to do more with less, compounded by increasing demand.

But there are ways to help. Through Sponsor A Senior — A $25 donation would sponsor a senior’s meals for a year. There is also the Arizona Tax Credit, which means donors can receive 100 percent of their donation on their state income taxes up to $400 [single] and $800 [couples].

Anyone wishing to take advantage of the tax credit while donating toward Senior Meals can through Arizona State Tax Form 321. To sponsor a senior, send checks to Cochise County Senior Meals, PO Box 1027, Benson, AZ 85602 or call the Benson Community Center at 586-2824 for tax forms and other information.

Tee Box sponsorships are $50 which will include advertisement of the sponsorship. There will be first, second and third place trophies, prizes for closest to the pin and longest drive, men and women, and a $100 hole-in-one prize. There will also be plenty of raffles to include golf packages from throughout Southern Arizona. All entry fees must be paid to Cochise County Sr. Meals. Entree fees will not be accepted at San Pedro Golf Course Pro Shop but can be paid day of tournament at registration desk which cannot accept credit or debit cards. Team slot reservations filled on first paid basis. Mail checks to: P.O. Box 1027, Benson, AZ 85602. For additional information contact Leisa Cotten at (520) 255-0693 or Linda Wilson at (520) 586-7814 or San Pedro Golf Course (520) 586-7814.

It’s incumbent upon us all to ensure senior meals gets the funding it needs to operate another year, and it’s up to us to make that happen. Anything short of that is simply unacceptable.

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