It was a record-setting night at the United Way of Grays Harbor Black and White Gala fundraiser in Ocean Shores on Saturday.
Donations and auction item purchases by the 390 attendees raised $178,000 for the United Way’s 16-plus programs, besting last year’s then-record by $40,000.
“This is going to change so many lives,” said United Way of Grays Harbor Executive Director Kelley McDonald as the auction concluded. “I love you all.”
This was the 21st Black and White Gala, held again at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino, which is a platinum sponsor of the event. There were 12 live auction items, everything from a Mariners suite for 20 to trips to Tuscany, Africa, Mexico and the Caribbean. Live and “almost live” auction items lined the edges of the banquet hall. All told, more than 140 businesses donated auction items.
Rich Hartman’s Five Star Dealerships and Jodesha Broadcasting are the event’s two founding sponsors. After the event, Hartman lauded the fact that the money raised would stay local, going directly toward helping people in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties.
State officials mingled with community and business leaders and charitable folks from all over the Twin Harbors. U.S Rep. Derek Kilmer was among them, along with the 19th Legislative District contingent: Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen; Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen; and Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview.
A five-course dinner and cocktail hour preceded the auction, with Johnny Manson and Rhys Davis serving as masters of ceremony. After a welcome by McDonald, auctioneers Phil Luce and Logan Livingston hyped the crowd with a song, then got down to business, leading fast-paced, spirited bidding on the live auction items.
Thousands of dollars were raised during the Fund a Need portion of the auction, where attendees could donate at various levels from $2,000 down.
Funds were also raised for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which would provide Twin Harbors children up to 5 years old enrolled in the program a new age-appropriate book delivered to their home every month. McDonald said this would be the second such library in the state, Cowlitz County being the other. Auction numbers were waving as people donated $25 toward the program, which funds one child for a year. At the end of the night, enough was raised to provide more than 117 children with books.
If you weren’t at the gala and wish to donate to this program — no funds will be taken from existing programs for the library, stressed McDonald — visit the organization’s website.
Silver sponsors for the event included Toyota Financial, Windemere Real Estate Aberdeen/Ocean Shores, Harbor Foods Group, Ries Manaagement and Spivey Realty Group; and 18 local and out-of-area bronze sponsors supported the event.
United Way of Grays Harbor’s programs include literacy, education, basic needs, and others designed to help local community members move from poverty to prosperity. For information on United Way Grays Harbor, its programs, and how to get involved, check out https://www.unitedwaygraysharbor.org/.