OCCF annual fundraiser ropes in $17,000

EVART — The Osceola County Community Foundation will continue to benefit organizations and nonprofits thanks to a collection of more than $17,000 during the nonprofit's annual dinner and silent auction event.

Hundreds of community members came together to benefit the OCCF, which in turn will benefit the county's residents through food pantries, libraries, senior agencies, schools, city services, health foundations and more.

"I was pleased with the amount we raised," said Larry Emig, assets development director for the foundation. "The numbers and attendance were down a little this year because of other competing events, but we had some new faces and it's always good to see that."

Attendees were given the opportunity to bid on an array of small and big-ticket items, auctioned off by Andy Lattimore, including gourmet food packages, Detroit Tigers baseball game tickets, a Red Wings jersey, Tim McGraw concert tickets and vacation getaways worth hundreds of dollars. Many attendees got involved, some battling it out with bids to take home a prize.

Silent auction items such as gift baskets, minor league baseball tickets, gardening items, electronics, golf packages, kitchen items and food products also were up for grabs. A raffle drawing collected $1,180.

Upon entry to the event, a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres were provided before a buffet dinner and dessert was offered by Pere Marquette Catering.

Marion resident Derek Dennis, owner of Great Lakes Wood Pellets and Great Lakes Property Construction, participated in the live bidding. He walked away with a guided fly fishing outing for two on the Pere Marquette River for the winning bid of $300.

An avid fisherman, Dennis said he was looking forward to the trip.

"I've never been on a guided trip, and I'm hoping to learn more while I'm out there," he added. "I might do it this fall."

Emig said the OCCF Board will meet in the upcoming weeks to evaluate the event and discuss possible future changes to help keep the auction fresh and attracting residents.

"It was our 21st year and I hope we continue to gain new people and continue to have that loyalty from others," he added. "I think this year felt more relaxed. We were ready and the event seemed more comfortable than previous years, which is good."