On April 21, the Spring Valley VFW held a “Rebuild the VFW Benefit Dinner and Auction” at the Spring Valley Community Center. This fundraiser was held to pay for needed re-building due to the fire that destroyed the Johnny Ringo’s bar in the fall of 2017. Thanks to the generosity of the community, and the great turnout at the event, the VFW has reached their fundraising goal of $70,000.
VFW Post 4114 Commander Steve O’Connor said that some fundraising had occurred before the April 21 event, but, “It went very well, with the donations and auctions (silent and live), we raised $36,000. It was just amazing.” O’Connor and event committee member Sarah Kohn estimated 500 people attended the benefit event, and said the community center was crowded to near-capacity, with barely enough room for people to get to the auction items or food serving line.
O’Connor also pointed out that he was very impressed with the donations from local students. He said Kingsland’s Key Club held a “penny war” that raised nearly $800, and other students held a volleyball game to raise money for the VFW’s need. He said he’s pleasantly surprised to see so many young people giving to help veterans. He also said there were many individuals and organizations whose generosity simply overwhelmed him. There were so many, O’Connor said, that he hesitates to mention specific donors, for fear of forgetting to mention everyone.
O’Connor shared a favorite happening at the event, saying that to honor Dale Wondrasch (who passed away about a year ago), a bottle of Kessler’s Whiskey was donated and auctioned. And although the whiskey was priced about $15 in the liquor store, it sold at the auction for over $225. Kohn shared that she was astounded at the amount of items donated for the auctions, and said for the benefit event as a whole, “In my opinion, the community gave at least three times what I was expecting.”
When asked what’s next, O’Connor said, “As far as actively soliciting, we’re pretty much done with our fundraising. We’re just about at $70,000. Our original goal was $100,000,” but he explained that the original estimates of the amount needed were inaccurate. Kohn added, “But it’s better to aim high than to aim low.” So O’Connor said now the VFW is looking to keep the repair work rolling along. He said at some point, when repairs are nearing completion, an open-house event will be held, possibly in the fall of 2018.
O’Connor and Kohn both said they want to thank everyone involved, including Dick Schwade (of Spring Valley Auctions) as well as all donors of time, cash or items, and all who attended. Kohn said she is working on documenting the project through “before” and “after” pictures. They encouraged everyone to watch and see how their generosity restores the VFW as the various repaid and remodeling tasks are completed.