LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Many children started their morning by tearing the wrapping paper off the gifts under their trees. A local gun club wanted to bring the same experience to the kids at Arkansas Children Hospital, so they raffled off three guns and ended up with $2,000 to purchase toys for the young patients.
“Let's start these raffles, see what we can do,” Dominick D'Angelo said of the group's initial discussions. “We had a goal that we targeted, and we surpassed that goal.”
Spending less on the firearms made it easy to reach their financial goal, and to fulfill one of the members' personal goals.
“I've spent my share of time in Children's Hospital (http://www.archildrens.org/), as well as some of our other members,” Reg Petz said. “So, we wanted to do something extra special this year with Children's Hospital.”
Petz and his wife hit several stores, trying to buy as many presents as they could with the proceeds.
“Friday, it was pouring down rain,” he said, “so, you know, me and my wife, we was going around to stores and stores filling shopping carts at the last minute.
“I mean, there was times were people were just, like, thinking it was for our kids. Like, 'oh, some last-minute shoppers?' And we were, like, 'No, this is actually for Children's Hospital,' so they kind of gave us a break after that.”
“And seeing and loading everything up — physically seeing everything — makes you feel good,” D'Angelo said. “Makes you feel real good.”
D'Angelo hoped to give some of the toys directly to the patients, but because of federal privacy laws, the best they could do was to deliver them to staff members at Arkansas Children's, who would then take the toys to the patients. But he claimed that would not take away at all from the experience of being able to collect and donate the toys.
“So, I know firsthand, [Monday] morning, after my kids got to open their presents, the looks on their faces,” he said. “I know that these children will get them, and they'll be excited and happy. And hopefully it just brightens their day up, for whatever problems they may be facing today.”
Petz said the members of the group, though spread out across central Arkansas, are close, so it did not take long to sell them on the idea of the raffle for a Smith & Wesson 2.0 9mm and Ruger 22/45 Lite pistols, and a Ruger 10/22 rifle. And knowing how much everyone contributed gave D'Angelo a smile that he could not wait to pass on.
“It really, it warms your heart,” he said. “I mean, it really makes you feel good knowing that there are parents with children that aren't able to wake up this morning and open presents under a tree, that they are in a hospital room, hooked up to IVs, machines, you know? So, being able to provide something to those children and their families? Best feeling in the world.”
D'Angelo said the group will make this an annual tradition at Christmastime, with a possibility that it will organize mid-year charity raffles, as well.