The Talking Rock Ranch clubhouse was filled with excitement, delicious food, and the clinking of game pieces on the Wednesday afternoon of August 31. One hundred and thirteen ladies filled every seat in the house to play the Chinese tile game Mah Jongg.
Sure, many of these ladies play weekly or more often with friends and neighbors, but this day was different. This day, they played the game to support a cause.
It was the second annual “Mah Jongg for Mutts,” a fundraiser organized by Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) volunteer Candy McLeod. Candy began volunteering for the YHS Thrift Store in January of last year, and within months she had a vision to turn one of her hobbies into a benefit for the animals at the shelter. That summer she put on the first Mah Jongg for Mutts.
The 2015 event was a smashing success. With her fiery spirit, infectious energy, and passion for the cause of animal welfare, she single-handedly recruited 64 Mah Jongg players to come together and raise $1,200 for YHS.
Candy received wonderful feedback from her friends who promised to play again if she organized a future Mah Jongg for Mutts. Wasting no time, a date was reserved right away for August 31, 2016.
Together, we hoped with Candy that this year the support of the community would increase by at least 50%. It seemed that would be the reality when the special day arrived and 112 Mah Jongg players were registered for the event.
Ladies arrived around noon to check in and eat a beautiful lunch prepared by Talking Rock Ranch. Picking up their name tags, those who played in 2015 were proud to show off the two paws stamped on their name tag (one paw for each year) and exclaimed that next year they would have three paws on their name tag.
Volunteers sold tickets for lovely raffle prizes, including notebooks, decorative pillows, candles, a gift certificate donated by Salon Tru Blu & Day Spa, and a Michael Kors purse. The grand prize was 50% off the raffle proceeds. Not only did Mah Jongg for Mutts players purchase the raffle tickets, but many of the golfers and members of the Club stopping in to Talking Rock Ranch for lunch purchased them as well. By the time we drew the winning tickets, the pot had reached $392—an exciting prize for the lucky winner.
The proceeds of all the donations, raffle ticket sales, and the $10 entry fees were tallied as the Mah Jongg players got their game on. The final total was such a thrill at $3,200! This amount was enough to feed every animal in the shelter for an entire month. Far more than what was expected, Candy was overcome with emotion and friends celebrated with her, sharing joyful tears. It goes without saying that next year’s Mah Jongg for Mutts, to be held on August 30, 2017 (register by emailing [email protected]), is highly anticipated.
If Mah Jongg isn’t your thing, but helping the animal shelter with a hobby you already enjoy sounds like fun (or perhaps you enjoy event planning), you can get involved! YHS is following the success of Mah Jongg for Mutts by organizing a series of game tournament fundraisers called “Games that Give.” Several have already showed interest in ideas like “Poker for Pups” or “Bridge the Gap between Dogs and Cats.” We know when you find a fundraiser that is actually FUN, it’s an easy way for friends and family to support a cause. We look forward to playing more Games that Give in the future!
Elisabeth Haugan is the Marketing & Development Director for Yavapai Humane Society. Contact YHS at 928-445-2666 or email [email protected].