September 29, 2011

Benefit Auction Raises More than $25,000 For Burn Victim

"Simply amazing!'

Those were the words used most often to describe Saturday night's benefit for Kevin Woods held at the Memphis V.F.W.

Woods, who suffered 3rd degree burns over more than 20% of his body in a lawnmower fire in August, is recovering at Ruske Rehab Center in Columbia.

Friends and family members gathered in Memphis on September 24th for a supper, auction, and dance to raise money to help offset some of the family's medical expenses.

More than 300 people were served in the food line. Chairs were brought in from a variety of locales, but the roughly 250 seats were overflowing with a standing-room only crowd estimated at well over 100 more for the auction.

Organizers Stacie Whitaker and Melissa Jordan put together the menu of donated food with Karen Norton heading up the kitchen duties that night.

The list of donated items was nearly as long as the guest list, with items being sold until nearly midnight.

"We probably averaged between 15 to 25 people a day in the week leading up to the benefit stopping at the shop and leaving donations," said organizer Chris VanHoozen of Hoozie's Sales and Service. "My credit card machine is in my back room at the shop. On Friday I actually had to ask a customer to come back and pay on Monday. I couldn't get to the machine because the room was so full of donations."

That generosity carried over amongst the guests, who spent well over $25,000 to purchase items sold at the benefit.

A touch screen video game donated by SC Vending and a gun cabinet crafted by Richard Fredrick were the grand prizes in a shirt and hat raffle, that raised several thousand dollars, with only the buyers of the hats and shirts in the auction being eligible to win.

Another big money raiser was the "loose-change" purse. Initially purchased by Kevin Holton, the purse was passed around the room, with all guests asked to contribute their spare change or other donations. The purse was then auctioned off again. The winner, Marlin Oberholtzer, announced that there wasn't enough money in the purse after he bought it, and it was passed around again. Finally the handbag was sold again at auction, with Oberholtzer paying over $1,000 for the money-filled accessory. Patrons had placed over $1,000 in the purse. Oberholtzer donated the purse and all its contents to Kevin's wife, Debbie, who was in attendance.

"It's stuff like that, that makes you proud to call Memphis home," said VanHoozen. "When we were visiting businesses asking for donations, not one person turned us down. That says a lot about our community and even more about how they feel about Kevin Woods and his family."

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