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Youth sports fundraiser will be shear fun

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN By getting a hair cut early next month, residents of Hampden can help keep youth sports programs up and running in the town.

Looking good has never been so beneficial.

The town of Hampden does not have a budget-supported Parks and Recreation Department, yet it has a very active youth sports program, according to Mike Cronin, president of the Recreation Association of Hampden (RAH).

How does the department support youth soccer, basketball, baseball and softball, then?

RAH has two fundraisers coming up during the month of March -- a "cut-a-thon" at Mane Event Salon and a St. Patrick's Day party.

Since its inception more than 40 years ago, RAH has been raising funds for youth sports programs in the town. Recently, fundraisers have been bringing in between $3,500 and $4,500, all of which goes toward field and gym maintenance, new uniforms and equipment and capital projects, Cronin said.

"One of the girls who works here [at the salon], Andrea Gorecki, does a lot of work with RAH," Barbie Moriarty, owner of Mane Event Salon, said.

Gorecki is a newer member of RAH, with four children who participate in youth sports in town, according to Cronin.

"We've had similar fundraisers in the past as benefits for other organizations. Some were personal, or for Sept. 11, or for [Hurricane] Katrina victims. We host cut-a-thons whenever the need comes up and we do whatever we can to help out."

This event will be the first cut-a-thon that will benefit youth sports, however.

On March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., any shampoo and hair cut will cost $10 and walk-ins are preferred. All proceeds will be donated to RAH.

"This is a great way to raise money," Moriarty said. "It costs nothing but our time." She added that cut-a-thons in the past have been very successful and "a lot of fun."

"I've owned a business in Hampden for 23 years," Moriarty stated. "I don't have any kids that play sports anymore, but I know and I'm close to a lot of kids who do now." She believes this fundraiser is very important for those children.

"It's terrific they're willing to give up their time and give their proceeds to RAH," Cronin said. He said the money raised will most likely go toward the town's softball program.

Mane Event Salon is located at 548 Main St.

The RAH St. Patrick's Day Party will be taking place March 15, starting at 6 p.m., at the Hampden Country Club at 128 Wilbraham Rd. Dinner will be served and there will be a 50/50 raffle and item raffles as well. Cronin said the goal of this year's fundraising efforts is to raise $4,000.

"We're working on building dugouts at the baseball field at Thornton Burgess Middle School," Cronin stated. "The money goes where it's needed." In recent years, new basketball and soccer uniforms were purchased with the funds raised, and last year RAH used $3,500 to upgrade the baseball program with new gloves, bats, catcher equipment and more, he added.

"The baseball team came up with a list of what they needed and a budget," Melissa Caron, RAH's clerk, said. "We've helped pay for the reconstruction of some of our baseball fields, too, with resodding and landscaping."

Caron added that RAH is specifically geared toward assisting youth sports programs in Hampden.

Two $250 scholarships, for one male and one female Hampden high school student-athlete, are awarded annually from the funds as well.

"Parks and Recreation cannot accept donations, so we do it for them," Cronin said. RAH has 14 active members who assist with the fundraising efforts. "We're the booster side for Parks and Rec," he continued. "We raise funds and then return that money to the public."

To purchase tickets for the St. Patrick's Day party, contact Cronin at 566-5181 or Bob White at 566-8778.