The organizers of the annual fundraiser at the Yaak River Mercantile and Tavern to benefit Wings Regional Cancer Support are gearing up for what they anticipate will be another successful year, and they are ready to take donations of every sort and size.
Of all the things they want people in the community to know, most of all they want them to know that no donation is too small, the committee agreed.
“Even $10 is $10 we didn’t have,” said committee co-chair Larry Miller.
From cream puffs to hanging baskets or whatever someone can come up with, even the smallest items may bring in hundreds of dollars, Miller said.
Last year the benefit in the Yaak raised over $33,000 to help cancer patients and their families handle the expenses such as travel, food and lodging that come for people in Lincoln County when they have to receive treatment hours away in Kalispell or Spokane.
In August, the Wings Walkers raised another $15,000 to add to that, said organizer Sandy Bedler-Miller.
With this year’s fundraiser coming up Saturday, May 4, the organizers are working hard to make sure things are ready when the day rolls around.
They anticipate that just the raffles will bring in around $6,500 this year, even before they get to the silent and live auctions.
There will also be some new additions this year.
Bedler-Miller said that there will be popcorn and hotdogs available at the tent this year, whether for people who don’t plan to stay for the Mexican dinner or those who simply have a hungry child they want to keep happy.
Committee co-chair Gwen Allen — also owner of the Mercantile — said they are looking into getting a face painter.
And for the tired adults, there will be a suggested-donation chair massage, she said.
Organizers are also still looking for additional volunteers to step up and help the day-of.
Miller said that the people who help out with everything from watching the tent to shuffling the auction items, taking money and just keeping things moving smoothly are essential to success the day of the benefit.
“It’s really a lot of moving parts,” he said.
“There are so many people that are behind the scenes,” Allen said. “They make it happen.”
The committee said that they were very pleased with the auctioneering talents of Kelly Morford last year, and that he has agreed to return again this year.
Having a professional doing the auctioneering makes a big difference in how quickly and smoothly it all goes, Bedler-Miller said.
There are a few things those making donations can keep in mind to help things run smoothly.
Bedler-Miller said they have introduced new forms this year to help donators explain the value of items for the auction and silent auction.
She said they also would like the names of those who donate items so they can give them credit. However, those who wish to stay anonymous are still welcome to.
While the organizers are always happy to have any donation, it can help if those making donations for the auctions bring them in well ahead of time as well.
In addition to making it easier for the organizers by knowing what they have and not having to add items to the auction list on the hectic day of the benefit, donating early lets them add photos online.
Auction items for this year are already showing on Facebook, helping to build anticipation for the day, Bedler-Miller said.
Donations for the auctions can be dropped off at the Mercantile, or for those who can’t make the trip easily from elsewhere in the county, volunteers can come to them and pick the items up.
In addition this year, The Western News has agreed to accept donations at the business office at 311 California Avenue in Libby. Donation and tax forms are also available at The Western News. Those who wish to leave a donation at The Western News should make contact with benefit organizers beforehand.
Visit wingsnwmontana.org to find out about Wings or contact Karen Stickney, Lincoln County Wings, at Karen@cabinetpeaks.org.
The benefit’s page can be found on Facebook by searching “yaak wings benefit.”
To reach Yaak organizers directly, such as to organize a donation for the auctions and raffles, Miller can be reached at 406-295-7095 or Treegyn1@yaahoo.com; Allen can be reached at 406-295-5469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.