Around 110 people turned out Sunday to enjoy dinner, leave bids on a silent auction, drop their tickets into the “bucket raffle” competition and compete for some big-ticket items in a live auction in Anna.
The occasion was the 19th annual Dinner and Auction for Animals to raise funds for PAWS. PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) supports a no-kill shelter, PAWS Place, in Anna. The dinner was at the Great Boars Lodge on Kratzinger Hollow Road.
Carol Hoffman of PAWS was busy selling raffle tickets while other PAWS volunteers were selling T-shirts, hoodies and other PAWS logo merchandise.
So much merchandise was donated that the silent auction was set up in four color-coded divisions, with bidding closing at 15-minute intervals to speed up the process of totaling bids. After the last silent auction (purple) closed and the bucket raffle winners were announced at 3:30 p.m., auctioneer Alex Belcher began the live auction at 3:45 p.m.
Items donated for the auctions ranged from handcrafted jewelry and artwork to quilts and wall hangings, to such practical items as a chainsaw, a steam cleaner and a 15-ton load of gravel.
Pet-themed items abounded, from a ceramic candlestick with a horse image, to a Christmas tree created from horseshoes. Dog owners could choose from a variety of dog beds, dog treats, dog photos and artwork, even certificates from veterinarians offering low-cost spays and neuters. One artist donated a sterling silver necklace with a delicate cat design, while others donated animal-themed quilts and hangings.
Georgia Wright of Marion, browsing through the array of items, said this was her third year attending the fundraiser. “I believe in what they’re doing,” she said simply. Not only does she donate to PAWS; she also has adopted a pet that came from the nonprofit humane group.
Dave O’Melia, a professional photographer and website developer who lives near Anna, developed the PAWS website and also takes all the photos that appear on the PAWS website as well as the PetFinder and Adopt-A-Pet sites. He also contributed a photo for the silent auction. The photos on the websites are all studio quality. “I’ve worked taking photos since age 12,” O’Melia said, “and I have the best equipment.” He also said he knows how to get the animals’ attention with a word or a whistle, to capture them at their best.
Great Boars owner David Fombelle not only was greeting guests; he also had his eye on some of the more unusual items up for bids in the live auction, he said. The lodge and particularly the next-door restaurant have an eclectic décor that mixes antiques, musical instruments, statuary and fountains — even paintings on the ceiling — to provide a unique atmosphere.
Someone else had the winning bid on a copper fountain donated by the Rainmaker, David Dardis of Makanda, but Fombelle later bought it from her, a PAWS official said.
Though the group was still totaling up proceeds late Sunday evening, PAWS President Karee Sweitzer said they should total around $10,000. “It’s a good day,” she said. “It will keep us operational for a while to help find homes for more of the babies,” the homeless, abandoned and unwanted animals that get new homes through PAWS. More than 4,300 animals have been adopted since PAWS opened PAWS Place Adoption Center in 2001, Sweitzer said.
PAWS Place is at 139 E. Vienna St. (Illinois 146) in Anna. The phone number is 618-833-3647.