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WAPAKONETA — A county organization is gearing up for its annual benefit this week and is still accepting items to be auctioned off.
The Auglaize County Crisis Center’s 24th Annual Benefit Auction will kick off at 5 p.m. Thursday in the junior fair building at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds. Last year, the Auglaize County Crisis Center handled 2,438 crisis calls, sheltered 64 area residents and served 1,430 non-residential adults and children, according to a news release issued by the crisis center. Auction Coordinator Heide Koenig said the auction provides financial support for the crisis center.
“We raise money to supplement and pay for the daily operating expenses of the crisis center,” Koenig said. “So, whatever costs are associated with having the center open and providing the services to the community every day. We do receive grants, but this supplements the grants and allows us to continue to serve the community.”
In light of numerous cutbacks in funding, money raised through the auction and from community donations are important, Koenig said.
“This year is extremely important and we’ve just had such tremendous community support,” she said. “You always get concerned with the way the economy is how things will turn out, but our cash donations are virtually the same as they were last year. We continue to receive tremendous support from the community.”
This year’s auction, Koenig said, includes more than 230 items so far, including four one-day Park Hopper Passes to Disney World, two tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour,” Cincinnati Reds tickets, Dayton Dragons tickets, a party for 12 at Beer Barrel in St. Marys with Owner John Heaphy as a personal chef and a variety of gift certificates, among many others.
“It’s all new items that we auction off. We have tickets to baseball games — those tend to go really well — gift certificates, hand-crafted items from local artists,” Koenig said.
The Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office will also auction off a few deputies.
“Each year, (Auglaize County) Sheriff Al Solomon recruits some deputies and they’re auctioned off,” Koenig said. “One year they did dance lessons. It’s a real fun part of the evening … That’s typically one of the items that raises a lot of money. It’s fun. People enjoy and look forward to that part of the evening.”
This year, St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan will also be auctioned off and has agreed to do two hours of lawn work at any Auglaize County location, Koenig said.
She noted the crisis center will continue to accept items to be auctioned off through the night of the auction.
“We’ve had people come to the auction at 5 (p.m.) or 5:30 (p.m.) and bring an item,” Koenig said, noting that the catalog printed last week and an addendum will be attached to the catalogue with a list of items brought in this week. “We do have people that bring in items that night and we welcome them, and we’ll announce who donated them.”
The chili cook-off will return to this year’s event, as area law enforcement and fire departments will square off for the chili cook-off title.
“The one thing that we have every year that’s a lot of fun is the chili cook-off,” Koenig said.
“It’s grown — it used to just be the fire departments that participated from across the county. Now we have law enforcement from across the county that participate, the sheriff’s department and the FBI also participate. They all create chili — their own secret recipe.”
Attendees can vote for their favorite chili, she added.
“People who attend the auction vote with dollars and we tally up who has the most money in their boot, and then we name the champion of the chili cook-off for the year,” Koenig said.
Speedway Lanes will provide food at the event.
“We always have a lunch stand, and Speedway Lanes in New Bremen is providing that this year,” Koenig said. “We encourage people to come out after work, and they can eat supper there and then enjoy the auction for the remainder of the evening.”
A United Way of Auglaize County partner agency, the Auglaize County Crisis Center “ensures that adults and children whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence have a safe, confidential shelter, support and comprehensive education programs,” according to the news release.