MAYVILLE - Area residents will help a local soup kitchen and hope to bring home big-dollar baskets Saturday at Chautauqua Suites.
Businesses, churches and community members have donated 150 baskets for the ninth annual Spring Ahead St. Susan Center Basket Fair, which will take place from noon until 3 p.m.
Lisa Haglund, assistant vice president and branch manager of Jamestown Savings Bank, a division of Northwest Savings Bank, works for one of the many organizations that has helped make the fair possible. Haglund, a member of St. Susan Center's board, has donated items to the event for the past seven years.
"I feel like we need to give back to the community we live in," she said. "Right now, this economy is really struggling. I know when I volunteer (at St. Susan Center), it's heart-wrenching to see the children in line and some of the guests who have needs that our one meal a day probably doesn't even cover."
St. Susan Center served 80,000 meals in 2009; 85,000 meals in 2010; and 95,000 meals last year. As a result of the growing need for help in the area, Jamestown Savings Bank employees have asked other businesses and community members to donate items. Several employees will volunteer their time to help the soup kitchen this year.
"It's scary to me what's going on in the community," Haglund said. "Anytime we have the opportunity to do something like this, it's important to me to try to make more money so we can take care of feeding people."
The Watch Shop began donating items to the basket fair a couple of years ago. This year, the business chipped in a bracelet and a necklace.
"Unfortunately, with the economy the way it is and Chautauqua County the way it is, a lot of people are having some pretty tough times," said Jim Triglia, owner of The Watch Shop's jewelry division. "(St. Susan Center) is a worthwhile organization. They help a lot of people."
Cindy Hotchkiss, member of Kiantone Congregational Church, attended a St. Susan Center Basket Fair years ago and encouraged her church to get involved. She believes adults who eat at the soup kitchen often choose between buying groceries and paying for rent or utilities.
"You can't look for a job or hold a job down if you're not eating," she said. "Our children, a lot of them in the area qualify for free lunches, but there's no school on the weekend, summer vacations or other vacations. These children need a meal; they can't function without at least one decent meal a day."
Kiantone Congregational members have filled boy- and girl-specific baskets for children under age 1 for the past four years. Despite the size of the laundry baskets the church uses, parishioners manage to overfill them with purchased and handmade items, according to Hotchkiss.
"They have other kinds of baskets for so many people," she said. "We just wanted to do something different. It goes for a good cause. It's local. It's our area. I feel it's good to support other parts of the country and overseas, but I think it's good to support to our area."
ABOUT THE FAIR
Basket values range from $20 to $500, and descriptions can be found on stsusancenter.org.
For $7, attendees will get 10 chances, which they can use on any of the baskets, and two door-prize tickets. Door prizes include a Keurig, a Kindle Fire color, a men's Pulsar Chronograph watch, and a Sterling heart pendant and chain.
More than 400 people attended the eighth annual fair. With that in mind, event organizers have implemented an early bird special, which will allow those who purchased tickets prior to the fair to get in 30 minutes early and avoid waiting in line to pay, said Sue Colwell, executive director of St. Susan Center.
Tickets for the fair's three grand prizes - a 37-inch LCD Vizio flat-screen TV and a Wii bundle with a Super Mario Brothers game, an Apple iPad, and a weekend away at Plumbush Bed & Breakfast with a $50 gift card - can be purchased for $6 for one or $10 for two at St. Susan Center.
For the first time, the basket fair will have a silent auction and a late-bloomer table, which will feature baskets and gift certificates that aren't listed in the online catalogue.
Chautauqua Suites will provide lunch, which will cost $8 for adults and $6 for children. Drawings will start promptly at 2.
Those who wish to support the event but cannot attend can find absentee forms on stsusancenter.org or at St. Susan Center. Call 664-2253, ext. 3 for more information.