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PUTTING AROUND FOR A REASON DEPUTIES' EVENT BOOSTS CHARITIES.

Byline: Eugene Tong Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Divots and balls flew every which way at Valencia Country Club on Monday as local deputies hit the greens in a charity golf tournament hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station.

The daylong matches and auction aim to raise about $10,000 for volunteer groups SCV Safe Rides and the SCV Youth Project, Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Mike Shapiro said.

``We put a lot of time and effort into youth programs,'' he said. ``They're responsible kids. We want to be able to provide for them.''

Safe Rides has been providing free rides home for teenagers since 1986. On Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., volunteers provide lifts for those 18 and under who are stranded because they or their drivers are impaired by alcohol or drugs.

``If they're stuck, they're just glad to see us there,'' said Sarah Bowen, 17, of Canyon Country, a Safe Rides volunteer who doubled as a ball retriever at the tournament.

SCV Youth Project offers counseling and support for troubled teens. The group also organizes workshops at local schools to help deal with stress, family problems or other issues.

``We're grateful for the sheriffs for being as giving as they are,'' said Wade Trimmer, the group's associate executive director. ``It comes at a great time for us.''

Trimmer said the economic downturn has caused donations to dwindle for many nonprofit groups, and the event helps raise money needed to continue their work.

``This is just in time,'' said Penny Upton, Safe Rides' co-founder and administrator. ``Times are tough. We're grateful to the people who are participating.'' Capt. Patti Minutello, who heads the Santa Clarita station, admitted she's not much of a golfer after seeing her ball fall short of the green. But she still called the event a success.

``They're having a great time,'' she said. ``We're glad to contribute. Next year we'll be even better.''

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

5 photos

Photo:

(1) Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's Deputy Mike McPheeters drives off the 11th hole Monday at Valencia Country Club during a benefit tournament for volunteer groups SCV Safe Rides and the SCV Youth Project.

(2) Sheriff's Deputy Paul Hardy takes a hard swing on the first hole during Monday's tournament. The daylong matches and auction aimed to raise about $10,000.

(3) Deputies Mike Shapiro, left, and Tony Arnold watch Deputy Gino Reale putt during Monday's benefit tournament, hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station.

(4 -- 5) Sheriff's Capt. Patti Minutello, above, takes her second stroke on the 10th hole Monday. At right, she watches Deputy Mike Shapiro on the same hole. The target charities both benefit area youths with either safe rides home or counseling and support. ``We're glad to contribute,'' Minutello said. ``Next year we'll be even better.''

John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 29, 2003
Words:482
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