The candidates running for Lutz Guv’na spent months with their hands out.
The person who raised the most money was declared the winner of the ceremonial title, so they were all focused on filling their coffers throughout their campaigns.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, Jennifer Rankin was declared the winner and earned the Lutz Guv’na sash. But, the real winners were announced Oct. 1 at Learning Gate Community School, 16215 Hanna Road in Lutz.
After raising more than $18,000 over the course of the campaign, it was time to hand that money out to nearly 20 worthy organizations.
The funds raised went to local groups, and last week’s event allowed each of them to pick up a check to help them with their goals.
For the Lutz Patriots and Support the Troops, that means more care packages going to soldiers overseas.
For the Old Lutz School, it means continuing improvements, which include remodeled bathrooms and a new, lighted flagpole.
And, for the Lutz/Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, it means taking all of their money and helping out other local groups.
“We always give it away,” said Kay Taylor, president of the GFWC Lutz/Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club. This year the club’s Guv’na money went to Boy Scout Troop 12 and the Old Lutz School. The club spends much of the year raising its own funds to help others.
Being part of the Lutz Guv’na race is special for the group and for Taylor, who was a previous candidate herself.
“It’s a feeling of community. It’s a wonderful thing. You’re just thankful to be part of it,” she said.
The club runs its own Guv’na candidate each year, and even though KarenSue Molis didn’t win the title, she was all smiles at the distribution ceremony and happy to have been involved in the fundraising process.
“It was really fun,” she said. “The camaraderie was great.”
A portion of her funds will go to groups such as the Lutz Branch Library, the Old Lutz School, and Canine Companions, which provides assistance dogs to people in need.
Attendees such as Bruce Hockensmith of the Lutz Patriots appreciate the funds they received.
“It’s been phenomenal, the support that we continue to get,” he said.
The Lutz Patriots works with Support the Troops, and the money will go toward postage costs to send the care packages across the globe, which can run around $55 each. It’s a lot of money, but Hockensmith said the feeling soldiers get when they see a package — and know they haven’t been forgotten — is worth every penny.
And, they remember where it came from, too.
“There are troops all around the globe that have heard the Lutz name,” he said.
For Rankin, winning the title meant handing out the money, shaking hands and taking photos with grateful recipients. It also meant, like all candidates, designating 10 percent of what she raised to the cause of her choice.
Rankin picked the Steinbrenner High School cheerleaders, noting her stepdaughter was a part of the group when she attended the school.
This was Rankin’s way of giving back to them, and helping them fund a trip to their national competition if they qualify.
The third candidate, Cheryl Lynn Ayres, wasn’t at the event, but it was announced that Boy Scout and Cub Scout Troop 212 would be the recipient of her designated funds.
Now that the money has been distributed, the reigning Guv’na will go about her ceremonial duties, which includes attending events, cutting ribbons and spreading Guv’na good cheer when she gets an invite from a local group.
And, Rankin hopes it will be a busy year.
“I am so excited. I hope that people ask me to come to stuff. I hope they invite me to be there to represent what we all worked hard to achieve by raising money,” she said.
Published October 7, 2015