Funds from SL event to help families in many ways
By BRENT HARDIN
More than 200 people from the Storm Lake region helped support those who serve the United States during a soup supper and silent auction benefit on Saturday night, an event which raised $1,500 for deployed local soldiers and their families.
More than 50 Storm Lake area children are missing a parent this holiday season as the local unit was called up for a year for homeland security missions out of state.
The fundraiser, which took place from 5-7 p.m. at the Storm Lake Armory, was one of the largest such efforts by members of the Storm Lake Iowa Army National Guard Family Support Group branch, and Charissa Saathoff, the secretary of the family support group, said she thought the event went very well.
"We were pretty pleased with the results," Saathoff said. "Every item in our silent auction that was donated by local businesses was purchased, and that included more than 20 gift certificates and 20 to 30 different gifts from community businesses. We were happy with the support we received from the community."
That sentiment was echoed by Staff Sgt. Mike Olsen and Sgt. Jim Hauswirth, both of whom helped cook food and serve people during the event.
"It was a lot of fun," Olsen said. "It was a good event to have."
"It's always a positive when people are able to get to know us," Hauswirth said. "We are here for the community and the nation, and to have an event like this that allows community members to get to know us and help support the deployed soldiers at the same time is great."
Money raised from the benefit will be used in a variety of ways. A large portion of the funds will be used to buy Christmas presents for the children of the 68 deployed soldiers from the Storm Lake Iowa Army National Guard. Money will also be banked to use in case of family emergencies either here in the Storm Lake area or abroad.
"For example, if there is a family crisis back home, then we will use the money to help pay for the soldier to get back to their family, or if there is something that happens to the deployed soldier we can help fly his or her family out to see them," Olsen said. "We will be able use the money to help in any type of situation."
Hauswirth said the emotional support displayed by members of the community on Saturday night will also go a long ways toward helping the families of the deployed soldiers, who are not scheduled to return to Iowa until September of 2003.
"We really appreciate the support," Hauswirth said. "It means a lot to us to know that the community is behind us, and it means a lot to the families too. We're thankful for that, and we just want to be able to support the community back in any way that we can."
Saathoff said the next fundraiser for the family support group will take place in January, as a 1983 Harley-Davidson motorcycle donated by Cherokee Harley-Davidson will be raffled off.