Darren Doyie, story and photos:
It was another record-breaking year for Santa's Helping Hands, INC., the Edmonson County charity that distributes Christmas gifts and necessities for local children and seniors in need.
This year's benefit auction saw all records shattered for funds raised with $70,000 at Saturday's event.
Event coordinator and charity board member Mark Wardlow was humbled by the success of the 2021 auction.
"We were hoping for a huge auction this year after having a smaller attendance and a smaller auction last year while dealing with COVID," he said. "We had no idea it would lead to an auction that has shattered
all of our previous records."
Last year's total ($44K) was shy of the previous record set in 2019 of $50,000, which was more than double the $24K raised at the 2016 auction.
Wardlow said SHH saw an outpouring of donations this year and a record crowd for the auction at ECHS.
"Just like the last 16 years, Ricky Keith & Jake Keith were our auctioneers and Hunter Ashley has assisted us the last couple of years. You can always count on a good time with a lot of laughs with these guys. With the assistance of the ECHS boy basketball team we unloaded all our items Friday night in the ECHS gym."
The annual event was moved from the Community Center to ECHS last year to better accommodate a crowd in the midst of the pandemic, thanks to Principal Jonathan Williams and Superintendent Brian Alexander, Wardlow said.
"This has been a huge advantage for this charity since it gives us much more room for parking, seating, and room to display auction items. We are very appreciative of this. I also want to extend a huge thank you to the volunteers who selflessly give their time year after year. SHH is truly a team made up of wonderful people that love their community."
Wardlow said he didn't want to start listing specific businesses or individuals who support the charity and auction for fear of leaving someone out, which is a good problem to have when the list of supporters continues to grow each year.
"They know who they are. So many have supported us for years and we're always adding more to the list. Our community came thru this year with a huge crowd and many bidders who really opened up their wallets. We had more items to bid on this year, thanks to the increase in donations."
He also said that the record year will allow the organization to lend their "helping hands" not only through the holidays, but also for multiple causes throughout the year.
"We are very thankful and excited to share that this year we raised over $70,000 to spend in this county. This is such a blessing for all of us because we are not just a Christmas charity any longer. For the last several years we have assisted several families in need, whether it involves a family sickness, house fire, food, beds, etc. Thank you for continuing to make this a huge success."
The charity also drew the winners for multiple gun raffles that have been ongoing for several months that included Dawn Fox, the winner of a Beretta Silver Pigeon, and Ace Borie, who won the matching pair of Taurus G2C pistols.
"Thank you everyone who also supported our charity through the purchase of raffle tickets. There is no way this charity could have grown to where it is now without the support of our wonderful community. We all feel Edmonson County is a very special place."
The charity also offers other raffles throughout the year and an annual golf scramble that continues to grow.
To find out more about Santa's Helping Hands, or how you can assist with their mission and projects, please visit their Facebook Page or call Mark Wardlow at 270-991-2972.