Golfers at the annual Wells Fargo Championship Golf Tournament have enjoyed a cleaner golf course for the past 12 years, thanks to the South Mecklenburg High School community.
The school will kick off its 13th annual Wells Fargo tournament volunteer project this weekend. The 11-day endeavor not only will keep the course cleaner for golfers, but will help the school raise much-needed funds while also teaching the school community valuable life lessons about the importance of giving back.
“This is a very cool thing to be a part of,” volunteer coordinator Mary Settlemyre said. “(The tournament) is really big for Charlotte, big for south Charlotte and big for South Meck, and we get to be a part of that.”
The volunteer project – something volunteer co-coordinator Todd Bloom called a “trash pick-up” endeavor – kicks off on Saturday, April 26, when a group of about 16 people will help set up trashcans and receptacle bins each day leading up to the tournament.
The event kicks off with a practice round on April 29 and Pro-Am activities on April 30, and the actual tournament runs May 1 to 4. South Mecklenburg increases the number of volunteers to between 45 and 55 people on tournament days. Volunteers empty the trashcans along the course regularly, which prevents garbage from spilling out and blowing onto the course. Smaller groups of volunteers also will work the course on May 5 and 6 doing cleanup work.
“Really what we have is close to 500 volunteers from South Mecklenburg High School” over the course of the 11 days, Bloom said. “It’s just important – it’s community, South Mecklenburg High School pride.”
Wells Fargo provides the school with $30,000 in return for the volunteer services. The funds are split three ways between the South Mecklenburg Parent-Teacher-Student Association and the school’s athletic and performing arts departments. The athletic department can use the funds for a number of needs including equipment, uniforms and more, while the performing arts department can use its share for everything from band and orchestra equipment to funding the school’s annual spring stage production, Bloom
South Mecklenburg’s PTSA works with Principal Maureen Furr to identify needs within the school. The group also works alongside the individual academic departments, soliciting funding requests for their specific needs.
“Every department has the opportunity to put in a request annually,” Settlemyre, who also is a member of the PTSA, said. “The PTSA looks and approves as many of them as we can.”
South Mecklenburg works hard each year to involve the entire school community during the tournament. About 50 percent of the volunteers are parents of South Mecklenburg students, and teachers and faculty pitch in, as well.
“We have a lot of different people really helping us to fill all the (volunteer) slots each day on the course,” Bloom said.
Students from each athletic team and the performing arts department help out with the project, along with other students in the school. “Freshmen Day,” which will be held May 1, will include mostly freshmen volunteers and their parents.
“We do that because it’s a really great way to get the newest members of the school volunteering and connected,” Settlemyre
All students are given credit for volunteer hours for the work they put into the project. But the endeavor goes beyond volunteer credits or even raising money for the school, Settlemyre said; it teaches the South Mecklenburg community the importance of giving
“For me, volunteering is something you should do willingly,” she said. “This is part of being a greater community, contributing back to what you’ve been given.”
The school also is welcoming volunteers from the community. Email Settlemyre at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to help.