OSCEOLA COUNTY — In its 25th year of assisting the community, the Osceola County Community Foundation is gearing up for its largest fundraising event of the year.

This year's OCCF auction is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, in the community building at the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds. Social hour, a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres will kick off the evening, followed by dinner from Pere Marquette Catering and Bistro at 6:15 p.m. The live auction, featuring Andy Lattimore as auctioneer, will begin at about 7:15 p.m.

Maria Gonzalez, foundation manager, said the auction will be more interactive this year than in the past.

"We want to engage with our guests more and have fun," Gonzalez said. "We have a few games this year for attendees to participate in. Each game will be a part of a raffle and you have the opportunity to win the item associated with the game. Our trustees and committee members will be there to greet and encourage people."

Attendees will be able to silently bid on a variety of small auction items, including gift cards from a number of local businesses, gift baskets stuffed with everything from a dental health basket to a wine basket, Vera Bradley bags and more. Large auction items, which are increasing in popularity every year, includes a Mackinac Island package at the Bayview Inn with dinner and ferry tickets, a custom-painted deer blind, and tickets to the Garth Brooks concert in Grand Rapids, to name a few.

Gonzalez believes the auction is one event of the year that shouldn't be missed.

"We are looking very forward to these changes and engaging people," she added. "We want the auction to be an event where people know they are going to have a fun evening with friends and give to a good cause."

The goal to raise this year is $25,000, which will help the OCCF fund a number of grants and scholarships for residents, students, areas and organizations in Osceola County.

Tickets to the annual auction can be purchased at the Reed City Depot or from any OCCF trustee. For more information, call (231) 924-5350.