Parents aghast after fundraising raffle for EHYFCL children's football league offers assault rifle as grand prize
'I thought it was in very bad taste for them to choose a weapon that is being used against children,' said a concerned parent from East Flat Rock, NC
EAST FLAT ROCK, NORTH CAROLINA: After offering an assault rifle as the prize in a fundraising raffle, a nonprofit organization in North Carolina found itself in hot water. It was raising money for young child athletes and cheerleaders and this aspect sparked the controversy. The raffle was sponsored by the East Henderson Youth Football and Cheerleading League.
EHYFCL is a nonprofit organization in East Flat Rock, NC, providing local children between the ages of 5 and 12 with the opportunity to take part in football and cheerleading programs with a primary goal to assist young people in developing strong senses of character, sportsmanship, self-confidence, responsibility, and teamwork in a competitive environment. Locals in East Flat Rock, North Carolina, objected to the raffle's prize of an FN 15 Patrol Carbine, according to the area's ABC affiliate WLOS.
The prize selection has drawn criticism from some, who feel it is inappropriate for a children's league. "I was honestly shocked when I received the message that the children were going to be selling an assault rifle because of what’s going on at schools around the country," an anonymous concerned parent told WLOS. Another anonymous local parent said, "I thought it was in very bad taste for them to choose a weapon that is being used against children." Facebook users also criticized the group, calling the raffle everything from "sad" and "bad" to "disgusting" and "deplorable" in the comments.
Leaders of EHYFCL replied to the criticism in a Facebook post on Thursday, writing "in response to complaints made both publicly and ‘anonymously’ regarding our raffle. We're currently taking applications for an official Fund Raiser. If you have a sure way to raise enough money quickly to get us through the rest of the season and still have enough to start up next season, we need you to use that energy in a positive way."
The group stated, "The referees are not volunteers, the [law enforcement officers] and first responders for the children's safety are not volunteers," after making it clear that their organization is not connected to the county or the school district. The group also stated, "The use of the field, stadium, and facilities are not free, the lost uniforms, mouthpieces, chin straps, ear pads, bows, and socks are not free,” the group continued. “Equipment is not free, the insurance is not free, and all the other fees the league must pay are not imaginary. If we’re not raising enough money, we’re forced to raise fees,"
According to EHYFCL's statement to WLOS, they are currently raising money to buy new equipment and be able to sponsor kids in our neighborhood who cannot afford the registration fees. A league representative went on to say that the raffle winner had to be at least 21 and clear a background check, and that "the AR raffle has taken place three years in a row and brings in the most support we have ever had."
An AR-15 raffle to support high school wrestlers at Chase High School in neighboring Rutherford County was suspended months prior to the contentious raffle in Henderson County, North Carolina, due to worries about the nation's rising gun violence.
In a post on Sunday, the group thanked the people who are supporting them and stated, "If you don't care to participate in the raffle but would like to contribute to a youth organization that prides itself in providing a safe environment for children to be children, you are welcome to just send a donation." They also said "EHYFC is a place to get away from whatever home situation they may face for at least 2 hrs a day, a place to remove them from video games, a place to be loved, a place to be praised, a place to be themselves, a place to be normal, a place to belong to something bigger than themselves, a place to learn manners, respect, leadership, and teamwork...THIS is what we do."