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Friend of NRA raises funds for hunting safety

June 18, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Born into a hunting and shooting family, Suzanne Lewis, 40, joined the National Rifle Association when she was 18. "I first learned to shoot when I was 10 years old or so," she said.

Then 12 years ago, she shifted her focus to the Friends of the NRA, a nonprofit foundation that raises money for youth and women's hunting safety and educational programs.

This Saturday, that foundation is holding one of its major fundraising events. The annual banquet at the South Mountain Rod and Gun Club was sold out months ago, Lewis said.

"There will be raffles, live auctions and silent auctions," she said. Last year, more than $25,000 was raised. This year, Lewis and her committee are hoping to double that amount.

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In the past year, Lewis said 27 grants totaling more than $66,000 were awarded to groups such as the Boy Scouts, 4-H clubs and others who promote hunting and shooting safety.

Lewis' interest in safety was learned at an early age. She recalls shooting with her father and grandfather and how they always stressed safety.

"I don't have children but I am very passionate about hunting safety," Lewis said. And on a practical note, young hunters have to complete safety education in order to hunt. "We provide that."

Lewis said the local Friends of the NRA committee has about 25 members and meets once a month. Activities center around raising money for the safety programs.

Half of what is raised stays in Washington County and half goes to the national foundation. But even that money trickles down to benefit local hunters, Lewis said.

Anyone can apply for a grant by calling Lewis at 1-301-748-1173 or Brian Swartz who represents Friends of the NRA foundation chapters in Maryland and New Jersey. His number is 1-973-343-2104.

Information is also available by visiting www.friendsofnra.org.

An electrician for 22 years, Lewis works with her father's Frederick County based business, Huffer Electric. She co-owns Catoctin Mountain Excavating with her husband, Randy Lewis.

"Randy likes to shoot but he also isn't interested in hunting," Lewis said. "We feed our deer, we don't shoot them."

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