story and photos by Brittany Ransom
It was a packed house at the Van Buren Public Library on Tuesday (March 4) as members and supporters of the GFWC-Women's League of Van Buren came together for the organization's annual "Big Bucks" fundraiser.
Tickets for Big Bucks were $100 and included dinner for two and the chance to win the $5,000 cash giveaway. Throughout the evening, numbers were drawn one by one, eliminating ticket holders with each name read. As numbers were announced, many guests jokingly booed upon learning they were not the big winner.
In addition to the grand prize drawing, random numbers were selected to win smaller $50 and $100 cash prizes. Guests could also take their chances in the silent auction, which featured a wide-range of items, including gift baskets, home decor, clothing, and baked goods.
A complete ticket listing was projected on the community room's screen to help guests track their numbers. With each name called, numbers were highlighted to show which were eliminated and which were still in play.
As the final two names were listed, Carolyn Loyd, GFWC-Women's League of Van Buren President invited the ticket holders to stand at the front. The announcer then proclaimed Kerry Schneider as the runner-up and recipient of $250, making guest Nita Bennett the $5,000 grand prize winner.
"Woohoo! I just booked a flight to Hawaii this morning," exclaimed Bennett. "I am so excited!"
"Big Bucks" serves as the league’s biggest fundraiser. Established in 1976, the Women's League of Van Buren is a member of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. The group dedicates itself to supporting local organizations and projects through volunteer service and resource development. Most recently, the group gifted $2,500 to help fund the SMART (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training) Girls summer program at the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, which encourages healthy attitudes and lifestyles among adolescent girls and promotes high self-esteem.
"In addition to helping fund SMART Girls, our club members try to play an active role in the program," said Loyd. "Several of our members volunteer as mentors and attend the functions with the young ladies throughout the year."
Women's League members also participate in regular service projects, including "Sew Much Comfort" for Wounded Warriors, Van Buren's" Keep America Beautiful" activities, and Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Each December, the group raises funds through its annual "Make It, Bake It, or Fake It" Auction to provide Christmas to area families in need. The league also awards a scholarship to a Van Buren High School senior every spring.
"We are so grateful to all those who support Women's League by attending Big Bucks every year," said Loyd. "Their generosity enables us to carry out our mission and better serve our community."