By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, which has units in both Sequim and Port Angeles, offers children and teens from kindergarten through high school a safe place after school and during the summer, at a fee of $30 a year per student.
“We aim to serve the children who need it the most,” said Janet Gray, resource development director.
The program provides meals, field trips, homework assistance, activities and social opportunities, Gray said.
To fund the clubs' activities, the organization is hosting its 24th annual “Simply Sweet” auction and dinner at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, a formal benefit at the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs at 400 W. Fir St.
The dinner and auction will be followed at 9 p.m. by a “Sweet Soirée,” a dance with a musical performance by Charlie Ferris.
Tickets for the black-tie-optional dinner and auction are $125 per person or $1,250 for a table of 10 and can be purchased online at www.tinyurl.com/ac8pcgq. Tickets must be purchased in advance. None will be available at the door.
Chances also can be purchased for $25 to open a “treasure chest” providing $1,000 in cash.
Volunteers and children are transforming the center into a formal dining hall, decorated with images and items that might be found in an old-fashioned candy store, Gray said.
The fundraiser benefits both units of the Boys & Girls Clubs: the Carroll C. Kendall Unit in Sequim and the Mount Angeles Unit, 2620 S. Francis St. in Port Angeles.
The annual benefit, which was first held a year after the clubs were founded 25 years ago, is the organization's biggest money-maker.
“We have a goal of $175,000 this year,” Gray said.
Both silent and live auctions, featuring $65,000 worth of donated items, will be included in the evening's activities.
Among the auction items are vacation stays in Mexico, Florida, Hawaii and Lake Tahoe (airfare not included for some trips); a classic 1967 Volkswagen Beetle; a garden fountain; a salmon fishing trip; and a monthly breakfast for four for one year.
Also planned this year is an auction to benefit the family of Violet O'Dell, an 11-year-old member of the clubs who died in October of brain cancer.
The club has framed some of Violet's artwork, which will be auctioned Saturday, with proceeds from the auction given to the O'Dell family.
Dinner's main dish will be dry-rubbed beef tenderloin, stuffed sole with sherry saffron sauce or a vegetarian option of Swiss chard leaves rolled and stuffed with pine nuts, currants, carrots, cauliflower and fennel.
All entrees will be served with a fall salad, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable.
Other major fundraisers for the organization are the Boys & Girls Clubs' annual golf tournament, FUNdraiser and the Campaign for Kids.
Funds raised during the three annual benefits provide for about 30 percent of the clubs' entire operating budget, Gray said.
In 2011, 300 guests at the dinner and auction contributed $150,000, which Gray said was low compared with past years.
The Boys & Girls Clubs are open Mondays through Fridays, and hours include summers, days when schools are closed such as teacher workdays and other non-school days when parents might otherwise need to leave their children home alone
In the past, the club has spent a large portion of its budget on food: The center provides snacks and sometimes dinners for children who otherwise might not get snacks and a meal, Gray said.
When the Sequim School District's “free and reduced lunch” population topped 50 percent, a federal food program stepped up to help fund those meals, she said.
Now that there is more help with feeding students, Gray said, the club wants to target donations to improve the clubs' transportation.
The organization provides transportation from Sequim and Port Angeles schools to the two youth centers, Gray said, and some of the vehicles are older and need work.
“Last summer, we had to cancel some of our field trips because of the condition of our buses,” she said.
The auction and dinner event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sequim, Westport Marine, Ameriprise Financial, KeyBank and Columbia Bank.
For more information about the dinner and fundraiser or information about the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, phone 360-683-8095.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.