Fundraiser benefitting Twin Valley Food Pantry is Feb. 8 & 9

Food for Families fundraiser organizer Deborah Harry sit among some of the items that will be available to be won during a silent auction benefiting Twin Valley Food Pantry on Feb. 8 7 ( at Conestoga Mennonite Church. Photo by Justin Finneran/Tri County Record

On Feb. 8 and 9, a duo of events benefitting the Twin Valley Food Pantry (TVFP) will be held at Conestoga Mennonite Church, located at 2779 Main Street in Morgantown. These events, which together make up the Food for Families Fundraiser, are being held for the second year in a row at the church. The Food for Families fundraiser was created and organized by Elverson resident and TVFP volunteer Deborah Harry.

“We have received many wonderful donations this year from at least 50 local businesses and individuals that will be of great interest to the public,” said Harry.

The first event is a Food for Families Fundraiser ‘crop’ (a ‘crop’ is get-together for scrapbooking aficionados) which will take place on Friday and Saturday at the church. The crop is an advanced sale event which has booked out approximately 60 paying guests, with the ticket sales going to the TVFP.

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The second event, which will be open to the public on Saturday, Feb. 9, is a Food for Families silent auction (there will also be prize drawings which can be participated in by purchasing tickets). This free event will take place at the church form 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and feature over 30 gift baskets and other items available for the public to bid upon.

Among the items to be bid on are two rounds of golf for two, plus carts, at Tanglewood Manor Golf Club in Quarryville, an autographed and framed photo of Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, and numerous gift cards and gift certificates.

“Plus there are items that would make great Valentine’s Day gifts – such as our Spa Basket and our Sweetheart Basket – that are made up from a number of great items,” added Harry.

Other themed baskets include a Twin Valley Coffee basket (Elverson), a dog basket by Godfrey’s (Mohnton), and a cat basket (designed and assembled by Harry herself).

Attendees will bid on silent auction items by registering their names and contact information, which will then assign them an individual bidder number. Next to each item there will be a bidding sheet where bidders will write down their number and the price which they are bidding. There will be a set price for the bids to begin at, as well as set incremental increases for each bid. As the event ends all bidding will come to a close and the highest bidders will be contacted for payment arrangements.

The fundraising efforts from last year were a huge success for the TVFP, netting approximately $5,000 which went toward the purchase of a commercial grade refrigerator and a commercial grade freezer for the pantry, and Harry is hoping that this year will be equally fruitful.

“Howard (Moss, Director of the Twin Valley Food Pantry) referred to this as their biggest fundraiser of the year,” Harry said. “The pantry fed 150 families in November alone… ... the need is growing and it is gratifying to see that our efforts can make a difference.”

The two-day crop will host over 60 croppers and vendors, and while the crop is a private event, Harry welcomes members of the public to visit the crop on Saturday (the crop is being held in a room adjacent to where the silent auction is being held) to see what the buzz is all about.

“Anyone interested in getting involved in cropping can talk to me or one of the other croppers or one of our vendors – we are all very friendly,” she said. “Croppers as a community often hold fundraisers for great causes. I have been to cropper fundraisers to benefit causes like breast cancer, youth missions, the boy scouts, and autism. Being part of the cropper community is a great chance to get out among friends and support a good cause. People are always happy to turn out for a fundraiser.”

All of the registration fees for the crop go to the TVFP. Meals for the crop have been donated by local businesses: lunch by French Creek Golf Course and Giovanni’s Pizza (each of Elverson), dinner by Café 110 (Morgantown), and desserts donated by Sweet Street (Reading).

Much time went into preparation for this year’s event, with Harry and other volunteers planning the upcoming events since the completion of last year’s fundraiser.

“Last year we learned a lot and have made changes to make organizing the weekend easier,” she said. “It is a much smoother process this year.”

Among the changes in prepping were using an online registration service for tracking the crop attendees and changing the way which volunteers have been packaging the gift baskets and other items.

“We began wrapping gift baskets for the auction and planning the meals for the crop (attendees) in December. The timing worked out well for me because this is the point in the year where my own business is slow, and for our corporate donors who have a larger budget for giving in the beginning of the year.”

She remarked upon how there are few expenses for the fundraising efforts thanks to businesses such as National Penn Bank, who donated money to help the volunteers pay for those other non-auction items needed need to put the events together.

Harry began volunteering at the Twin Valley Food Pantry after having a conversation with a neighbor who was involved with the pantry.

“I had always wanted to be involved as a volunteer and I used to think to myself that it would happen once I retired,” she said, “but then I realized that there was no reason not to start right away. I am motivated to give back to others because I feel lucky for all of the things that I have.”

She added that while she has been responsible for getting the ‘ball rolling’ on the Food for Families Fundraiser, none of it would have been possible if it were not for the help of those volunteers who support the pantry.

“This is a very positive experience for us all. Volunteering at the food pantry is the best thing that I have ever done – and putting together the fundraiser is the second best.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for Food for Families, or with other questions about the event, should contact Deborah Harry at 610-286-1970.

The snow date for the events will be March 8-9, 2013.

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