Auction raises money for animal shelter

Dec. 04, 2012 @ 12:46 AM

The Sevier County Humane Society held its 36th annual Champagne Auction — its biggest fundraiser of the year — Saturday at the Sevierville Civic Center, raising thousands of dollars for the animal shelter.

The event featured both live and silent auctions, food provided by the Culinary Arts Department at Walters State Community College and, of course, champagne. Sally Worden, board president of the Humane Society, elaborated on the origin of the auction's name.

"I think, originally, this was more of a formal affair," Worden said, raising a pinky. "We've branched out, and we've got the support so we can do that."

Auction items were provided by both businesses and private individuals. Some items were sold individually, but others were packaged into baskets with other items to be sold together, like "Cat's Meow," a basket that included a set of yearly vaccines from Sevier County Animal Clinic, a large litter box with scoop, a scoop caddy, a litter mat, two bamboo food bowls, a flea comb, a key ring and a plaque.

The Human Society gives out an annual Animal Advocacy Award at the Champagne Auction. This year's recipient was the Girl Scouts Smoky Shadows Service Unit, which has put on a fundraiser for the animals for 17 years in a row, providing the Humane Society with over 10,000 pounds of food and thousands of dollars worth of other supplies for the animals.

"We're really proud to present this award to them," said Jayne Vaughn, executive director of the Humane Society.

Carol Keathley and Joanne Overstreet, members of the service unit, accepted the award at the auction.

Last year's auction brought in around $30,000, and Worden expected this year's event to top that total. She was correct. Vaughn reported on Sunday that the auction raised $24,268, and two "surprise donations" brought in $16,500 more for a total of more than $40,750. The majority of the suprise donations came from $14,000 donated by M&M Gift Show's Jerry Mayer and Suzanne Mills, Vaughn said.

"This is our biggest fundraiser. Without it, we couldn't keep our doors open," Worden said. "We're out in the community several times a month, but rather than do several little fundraisers, we try to do one really good one. It takes a lot of time and effort, but people show up and support us."

All proceeds will go towards meeting the needs of the shelter's animals, animals like Puggles, a Pekingese that came into the shelter a couple months ago.

Puggles came in, like so many other animals, with significant health issues, one resulting in the removal of his right eye.

Vaughn doesn't normally bring animals to the auction, but Puggles, who currently lives with Vaughn and her husband as they try to find him a home, has become somewhat of a poster-pet for the shelter.

"The majority of the animals we receive have challenges and needs that have to be met before we can even think about putting them up for adoption," Vaughn said. "When that happens, we have to find the resources and the money to afford to meet those needs."

Puggles' medical costs amounted to around $500, Vaughn said. "Multiply that by 4,000."