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Annual Samaritan Center fundraiser draws a crowd

Annual Samaritan Center fundraiser draws a crowd

Glowing with generosity

July 13th, 2018 by Joe Gamm in Local News

Marylyn DeFeo, volunteer executive director at the Samaritan Center, speaks Thursday about the organization at the start of the dinner portion of the Glow of the Garden fundraiser for the Samaritan Center at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

Photo by Stephanie Sidoti /News Tribune.

One ham can feed a lot of people.

"The ham" at the annual Samaritan Center Glow of the Garden is a good example.

During the Samaritan Center's annual fundraiser, a Burger's Smokehouse ham can raise thousands of dollars during the live auction, said Janet Branson, a volunteer with the nonprofit organization.

"It's a thing," Branson said. The ham is sold and donated back. Sold again and donated back. Sold again and donated back. Sold again and donated back multiple times."

The Glow is the center's only fundraiser, but it's a must-attend event in Jefferson City. Last year it raised $137,000. That was a record, according to co-master of ceremonies state Rep. Jay Barnes.

About 700 people attended Thursday's event at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Organizers hoped to raise more than $140,000 for the center Thursday night, special events coordinator Jeni DeFeo said.

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The center, at 1310 E. McCarty St. in Jefferson City, serves as a food pantry and offers season clothing, blankets and household items for members of the community. It provides free medical services for people without Medicaid or other insurance Thursday afternoons.

During pantry hours, it serves dental patients by appointment only. It can provide prescription assistance.

Information and legal assistance are available at the center for low-income people, as is help with tax filing and obtaining refunds.

For parents, the center can provide formula and baby food, cribs or car seats, school supplies, valentines, Easter baskets, Mother's Day gifts and Halloween costumes. During other holidays, it can provide families with Easter ham and sides, Thanksgiving turkey and sides, Christmas ham or turkey and sides, Christmas gifts, and other gifts if families meet guidelines.

It can provide utility or rent assistance under certain conditions, gas vouchers for medical appointments, fans, spring cleaning kits and personal hygiene products.

All those items and services have to be paid for. The center accepts donations of items, but it has buying power.

That's where the Glow comes in.

The Glow included scores of items for silent bids: Framed prints, canvas paintings, water color paintings, a line of nutcrackers, hand-drawn pictures, mirrors, gift baskets, Royals and Cardinals merchandise, Mizzou merchandise, signs, party supplies, floral arrangements, fishing excursions, desserts for a year, and more for adults.

For children, there were gift certificates for Miner Mike's in Osage Beach, gifts from Central Dairy, tickets to Six Flags, toys, strollers, bikes, pedal tractors and many more items.

The live auction, in addition to the ham, offered unique items like art by Henry Domke, tickets to "Hamilton: An American Musical" in Chicago, a catered mystery dinner, a flying sightseeing tour of Jefferson City, a "Fixer Upper" package, a Capitol Tour (including a tour of the dome), a case of fine wines and even four tickets to the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club.

All the money raised is well spent, DeFeo said.

The center spends about $3,500 a month on milk alone. It feeds about 1,400 families every month, and last Thursday, 92 families came to the center during the evening pantry for food products.

Jefferson City turned out for the evening's gala.

Gladys Gladden said she supports the cause every year. She's been in Jefferson City all her life — 90 years.

She helps, "with money, basically," she said. She also assists sometimes if the organization needs help creating baskets or other projects, she said.

"We are so very lucky to have such a generous, supporting base in Jefferson City," DeFeo said. "If it weren't for nights like this, Jefferson City would be a different place."

This story has been edited to correct the title of a volunteer with the organization.