Fourth annual Forest Grove UCC event provides money for nonprofits that serve the needy

Pastor Jennifer Yocum says it'll bring more joy, justice and compassion into the community.

A postcard invitation bills it as a fundraiser for area nonprofits that "give assistance to those in need," from Family Bridge and West Tuality Habitat for Humanity to the Domestic Violence Resource Center to severe weather shelters across Washington County and more.

Organizer Bonnie McDowell — who, along with co-chairwomen Deva Harris-Williams and Chris Stacey has planned the event — just says a lot of fun is in store for those who attend this year's Caring for our Community Auction this Saturday at the United Church of Christ in Forest Grove.

The event isn't just for church members — anyone and everyone is invited, noted McDowell. "We would like to see more of the community involved," she said.

2008 debut

The auction, which debuted in 2008 with Brandi Frye as organizer, includes a silent auction and an oral auction. Up for bid will be a number of vacation packages, brunch with Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax, an electronic treadmill, wine baskets, a photography session, an afternoon of leaf-raking, cookies and pies for a year, various works of art by local artists and a three-day "paddling with the pastor" package, also known as a kayak trip with Rev. Yocum, who leads the FGUCC.

"This is a really fun event that brings attention to significant community concerns and raises money to help people in need," noted Yocum, a veteran kayaker who can be found paddling area bodies of water on her days off, which grow rare as the holidays approach.

Donations are pouring in to fill tables at the auction, said McDowell, who noted folks' generosity even in the face of the Great Recession. "Considering the decline in the economy, we're very happy with how steady things have been," she said.

Giving back

Theme of this year's auction is "Giving Thanks and Giving Back." Besides the auction, attendees will enjoy appetizers and desserts, no-host wine and beer and live music. UCC youth will provide childcare during the event, where kids will enjoy entertainment and a meal from Pizza Schmizza.

Transportation to the event can be arranged by calling the church at 503-357-9121. And, for those who can't be at the auction, there are three ways to buy some of the goodies:

n "Join-ins" are being offered by church members, with descriptions, dates and prices pre-set. Yocum's paddling trip is one, and a buffalo barbecue, a tour of Old College Hall on the Pacific University campus and a sing-a-long and soup supper is a third.

n A list of items for sale by proxy bid will be advertised on Facebook and on the church website as the auction nears. Church administrator Elena Parker will manage proxy bid requests from those who call in.

n Twenty-five "surprise bags," selling at $20 each, will contain treats, and one will include a $100 bill.

For a full list of nonprofits that will benefit from the auction proceeds, visit

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