The Wetzel County Farm Bureau will be holding the 12th annual WCFB Ronald McDonald House Charity Auction on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the New Martinsville City Complex (inside the council chambers) beginning at 1 p.m. Auctioneer for the event will be Terry Cozart of Cozart Auction and Appraisal Service, who has donated his services each year. "There are some great items up for auction at this year's event, including several trips, hotel stays, sporting event tickets, Glenn Barnes' artwork, Carhartt jacket and bibs, crafts, tools and, much, much more," said an organizer.
The WCFB has been helping the RMH since its first year (1990) when a local young couple needed assistance while their infant son was being treated at WVU Children's Hospital. Several fund raisers were held for the family and the Farm Bureau donated funds for a week's stay. From that point on the WCFB Women's Committee began making quilts and stuffed teddy bears. They also began sending groceries and cash donations. In the mid-1990's they began to participate in Food Check Out Day held food drives, pulled wagons through parade routes to collect items, and set up at local grocery stores.
In 2000, the WCFB decided to begin holding the auction to raise money for the house. The board felt this would give them the best opportunity to raise enough cash to make a difference. They contacted the RMH and its board members, got permission to use the logo, and the first auction was scheduled during the WCFB-sponsored fall festival. "The first year was amazing, we had all kinds of items from all over the area, and nearly 100 bidders," said WCFB President Robert Yeager. "WCFB member Marilyn Thomas made a quilt for the auction that brought $950. The WCFB Livestock Club donated a pen of three market rabbits from the livestock sale on Friday night and they sold three times and netted over $800. One of the members of the club who co-owned the rabbits was the child of the first family to stay in the house when it opened. Brittany was born with a heart defect and spent several months in the hospital. RMH Board Member Nelson Hachem was on hand at this sale and to introduce Brittany and her family."
The WCFB takes great pride in their work and relationship with the RMH and this event. The WCFB have been able to raise over $35,000 in the 11 years of the auction's history. They have also collected several hundreds of pounds of pop tabs and used printer cartridges at the event, donated over 150 youth quilts, and $800 worth of toys for the house and the children's wing of the hospital.
"Many of the donors have been with us since the very first year and we have one bidder that has not missed an auction," said Yeager. These people and businesses were recently honored at the WCFB Annual Meeting. Richard Brookover was given his own bidder number-#1-for his continuous support of the auction. Staff and board members of the RMH have also attended several of the auctions. "We have had guest appearances by the Hamburglar and Grimmace to help hold auction items and greet the children," added Yeager.
All the money raised is used to provide the Morgantown house with items they need and to purchase groceries on Food Check-Out Day. The WCFB shops at Witschey's Market in New Martinsville and is very honored to work with Bill Witschey and Dennis and Rose Wichterman. "Witschey's give us the best price possible. The employees are given a list for their departments and the games are on. Dennis has formed an in-store competition to get the most for our money. It has proven to be great for all involved," said Yeager. "Once all the items are priced and tallied, the WCFB members meet at the store and help gather, pack, and load the truck. We appreciate the time and effort by these people. We have purchased food elsewhere in the early years and no one has been as good to us as Witschey's have been. There is also a drop box set up for two weeks prior to Food Check-Out where patrons can drop off non-perishable items, pop tabs, and printer cartridges.
"We have also been able to purchase the house three upright freezers, microwaves, a laser printer, items for the guest rooms, and donated to the renovations after the major water leak," continued Yeager. "We also have a savings account that is used to sponsor families that show up with nothing but the shirts on their backs and no money. If the house is full, families are put up in a local hotel and funds are needed for that, and that is where the WCFB comes in to help those families and relieve them of one less worry."
A new program has started at the house and that is collecting any old and unwanted cell phones. These will be recycled and used to raise money for the house.