Holiday gala raised more than $132,000

The annual Holiday Fantasy gala was once again a smashing success, as corporate sponsors and 300-plus attendees accounted for more than $132,000 in donations to the Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation.

The event is put together in early December every year and serves as the Foundation’s primary source of income. This year’s gala, staged Dec. 4 at Emerald Downs, was the 25th annual affair.

Aside from the silent and live auctions, a highlight of each year’s Holiday Fantasy is the Fund An Item event, which allows companies and individuals to put money toward one of the Foundation’s worthy causes.

This year’s Fund An Item beneficiary is a replacement Care Van, which will benefit those in need throughout Enumclaw, Buckley, Carbonado, Wilkeson and Black Diamond. The van is a much-needed resource for those requiring health-related transportation, like trips to see a doctor, pick up a prescription or visit a therapist.

Rene Popke, the Foundation’s executive director since 2011, said the Care Van provides approximately 250 rides per month, operating Monday through Friday.

A week after Holiday Fantasy, the Foundation’s board of directors placed an order for a new van. The price tag, Popke said, is about $65,000 for a van equipped with a hydraulic lift and the capability to hold two wheelchairs and an additional nine passengers.

The van received a healthy boost from the local Rotary Club, the Enumclaw Foundation and Mutual of Enumclaw; each of those entities contributed $10,000. The rest of the money came from dozens of contributions at Holiday Fantasy ranging from $5,000 to $50.

“Our mission is to create a healthier community,” Popke said, noting that the Foundation is active with endeavors like Full Bellies, which provides a weekly meal to those in need; a hot meal program that delivers food to home-bound senior citizens; and a program that provides backpacks of food to school-age children every Friday.

Aside from raising money, this year’s Holiday Fantasy event also served to recognize those who have been around from the beginning. Singled out were community-minded citizens Margaret Rector, Jim and Betty Puttman, Judi Puttman, Sherry Lorde Smith, Doug Egan, Bette Zech, Sofia Bode, Una Waldron and Kim Rector. Also recognized were Vikki Gramann and Nancy Merrill, who were part of the first event.