A powerful fundraiser

MARSHALL – The United Way of Southwest Minnesota’s major fundraising event for children’s literacy is sold out as of Wednesday morning.

That’s the Power of the Purse.

Proceeds from the event support efforts such as Imagination Library, Wild About Kindergarten Bags, and 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. The Women United for Early Childhood initiative works to make a difference in the lives of children and families living in Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Yellow Medicine and portions of Cottonwood, Lac qui Parle, Nobles and Redwood counties.

In addition to fundraising, the evening includes a silent auction, food and socializing. The 2016 Power of the Purse event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ramada Inn in Marshall.

And as if that’s not enough, this year there will be a special “mystery guest” who should prove to be “quite entertaining and interactive,” said Marcy Heemeyer, the executive director of The United Way of Southwest Minnesota.

There is some wiggle room as far as buying tickets, Heemeyer said.

“There are a few available,” she said. “We’ve sold about 150 tickets and maybe we can work with Ramada as far as meal planning.”

Heemeyer said the event has always been successful, but there was a surge in popularity last year.

“We had the most guests in the history of the event,” she said. “This year people were asking about tickets before they went on sale.”

The reason was because the planners made adjustments to the event based on the results of a survey that was given two years ago. The survey asked what attendees enjoyed most about the evening. No. 1 was the opportunity to support a good cause, the second reason was “it was ‘a fun night out with my girlfriends or with my family,'” Heemeyer said. Coming in dead last for attending was to hear a speaker.

“We had speakers who would speak for about 45 minutes and they were always wonderful, but people wanted more time to visit and visit the silent auction,” she said. “We got really good feedback last year. People said the evening was ‘fun, I met new people and networked.'”

So the speaker portion of the evening was eliminated – which saved an expense, Heemeyer said, which gives even more to the early childhood education cause.

Another possible reason for the event being sold out is the convenience of ticket purchasing.

“I would say 98 percent purchased a ticket right on the website and reserved a meal selection,” she said. “I think that has made a difference.”

In addition to socializing, the evening will also be a chance to highlight the projects Women United for Early Childhood support, Heemeyer said.

A new fund-raising feature that will be available at the event and also on the website is Handcrafted Greeting Cards.

“A box costs $30 and the United Way of Southwest Minnesota gets $13 of that,” Heemeyer said.

Each box is filled with 30 handcrafted and unique greeting cards.

“The cards are beautiful,” she said.

A book fair will also take place Tuesday as well as taking place online for anyone who wants to help out the cause.

“Book orders will be shipped to their houses,” Heemeyer said.

Another attraction to the evening is the deluxe auction packages that attendees can bid on in $5 increments.

“We have six packages this year that are different from last year,” Heemeyer said. “They are a wide variety and should appeal to different guests. For example, there is the ‘Best Friends Road Trip’ which offers a $25 gift certificate to Monica’s Apparel and Accessories in Dawson. Nine friends also will receive a $25 gift certificate to the boutique and Monica will have hors d’oeuvres and beverages which will be customized. For example if people enjoy coffee and tea, that will be served.

“People can purchase a bid for $5; the more bids, the better the chances of winning.”

For more information, call the United Way of Southwest Minnesota office at 507-929-2273. Silent auction items can be previewed on the website at UnitedWaySWMN.org or on the Power of the Purse 2016 event page located on the United Way of Southwest Minnesota Facebook page.