By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Seeing a need for help in Liberal and the surrounding area, in 2009, local residents Jane Eisenhauer, Tracy Gutierrez and Annette Wilson formed Southwest Miracles to provide that help.
To provide that assistance, the now non-profit organization relies on donations throughout the year, and while they have that opportunity at other times, they can do so and have some fun at the same time in less than two weeks.
On Feb. 22 in the Seward County Ag Building, Southwest Miracles will host its annual fundraiser featuring a dinner, dance and silent and live auctions.
“Tickets are $20 per person,” Eisenhauer said. “It’s going to be a steak dinner with all the fixings.”
Doors will be open at 5:30 p.m., with a social hour from 5:30 to 6:30 and dinner starting at 6:30.
“The silent auction will go from 5:30 to 8,” Eisenhauer said. “At 8 o’clock, the band will start and play for about 30 to 45 minutes, then we’ll have a live auction. Once that’s over, the band will play till 12:30. It’s all BYOB.”
Eisenhauer added a lot of good items have been donated for the live auction, and Southwest Miracles is also giving guests a chance to win other prizes.
“We’re also selling chances to win a choice between a root beer mini-14 tactical or $500,” she said. “Those tickets are one ticket for $10 or five tickets for $40. You need not be present to win. All tickets are available right now, and we’ll sell them clear up to the time of the event. We can’t sell tickets at the door, though.”
Since its formation, Eisenhauer said Southwest Miracles has been a huge success.
“In fact, we think we might have to move to the Activity Center next year,” she said. “We did get our 501(c)3 in June or July of 2011. We are all up to snuff with the IRS.”
The organization has likewise helped many families in the local area.
“We have a share closet,” Eisenhauer said. “We’ve had lots and lots of donations for that.”
Eisenhauer said at last year’s fundraiser, Southwest Miracles sold 10 corporate tables. This year’s event will have a few more such tables.
“We’ve had to turn people away because we don’t have enough room for that many corporate tables,” she said. “We have 16 this year.”
Eisenhauer said Southwest Miracles has been such a huge success that now donors contact her, Gutierrez and Wilson wanting to know when to send a donation.
“They know it’s getting that time of year,” she said. “It’s a fun event. If everybody wants to come out and join us, that’s great. If you’ve never been, it’s a fun evening for $20 to get in.”
Eisenhauer said some of the people who have been helped by Southwest Miracles have offered to repay the assistance, but she said this is not what the organization is there for.
“We’re just out to give a hand in time of need,” she said. “We have a lot of those folks that have become volunteers for our organization and have come out and helped at our event or in other ways to help us out. We don’t ask anything in return when we help someone. It’s just our way of helping the community.”
Eisenhauer said none of the money raised by Southwest Miracles is given directly to anyone that the organization helps.
“It’s either by us paying a hotel bill or giving them a gas card or paying electricity, rent payment, house payment, things like that,” she said. “We don’t give any money directly to the individuals.”
Eisenhauer described how overwhelming the success of Southwest Miracles has been.
“We started out to be pretty small and pretty quiet and stayed under the rug,” she said. “We’re out in full force now. We’ve made a lot of new friends. I’ve made several friends, and so has Tracy and Annette.”
Eisenhauer said the fundraiser Southwest Miracles now hosts annually got off to a rocky start in 2010.
“I spent the first part of January in Texas,” she said. “My dad was ill and had passed away, and Annette’s mother-in-law passed away. We put our event together in two weeks. That’s how far we’ve come since then.”
Since those days, though, the fundraiser has grown, and Eisenhauer is inviting everyone to come out to the Ag Building on Feb. 22.
“If they need to get tickets, we have an answering service at 626-5035,” she said. “Just call that number and leave a message, and we’ll contact them back. We do have some volunteers selling tickets. Carla Wilson, Mike Brack, Jody Gutierrez and Terry Tanking are all selling tickets. If you see any of those folks, you can get tickets from them.”