PAWS annual Turkey Dinner fundraiser goes to the dogs

(Cutline) Here come the guests. Volunteers — just a few shown — prepare to greet the front wave of the 260 attendees at the annual PAWS Animal Rescue turkey dinner fundraiser.

This year’s annual PAWS Animal Rescue fundraising turkey dinner, held Sept. 9, saw approximately 260 attendees. Close to 20 volunteers helped with preparations, serving and clean-up.

“This year, we had a wonderful turn-out of people. We utilized about three starters, and then 10-15 volunteers throughout the evening, helping to serve, clear tables, keep water on the tables, and clean up in the kitchen,” said PAWS president Melita Hauge. “According to a quick check of the numbers — we served approximately 260 people. This was one of our best dinners we have had this year.”

“The dinner is at the First United Methodist Church, whose members have graciously allowed us to use their kitchen facilities and the big gym area,” said Hauge.

“The dinner preparations begin a couple of days ahead — there are turkeys to be cooked, sliced and readied for the roasters. The day starts about 1 p.m. with getting the dinner started — potatoes and stuffing need to be made, corn and beans warmed up, pies and desserts cut. There are usually two to three volunteers who begin this process,” said Hauge. “We offer turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dinner rolls and this year we made a request for pies for dessert, plus there were some other cookies and bars.

“Around four additional volunteers arrive to prepare the serving tables and dinner tables. We place water pitcher and glasses on each of the tables, plus salt and pepper shakers,” said Hauge.

“Then the chaos begins!”

“There were people arriving prior to our being ready to serve at 5 p.m. That is always a good sign! We try to serve 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for our dinners. We do offer take-out boxes for those who cannot stay and eat,” said Hauge.

She said PAWS and its supporters usually host five fundraising dinners throughout the year: March — Pasta Varieties, May — Mexican Night with beef and chicken tacos, July — Farmer’s Market in Fort Pierre, September — Turkey Dinner and November — “what we call our ‘Spaygetti and No-Balls dinner’, which we use to fund our spay/neuter program that we offer to the public,” said Hauge.

“Every dollar we spend comes out of the profits we so desperately need to care for the hundreds of homeless dogs and cats that pass through our doors each year,” said Jen Uecker, board vice president. PAWS Animal Rescue, at 1530 N. Lowell Ave, Pierre, is open Thursdays 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 605-223-2287.

Hauge added, “In addition to these dinner events, we try to attend the East Pierre Garden Center event which is in October, and Zonta which is in November. At these events, we offer t-shirts, calendars, dog biscuits, cat treats, and other items that are PAWS related in order to raise money for the shelter. Since we are a non-profit (a 501©3 non-profit organization), we depend on donations to keep our doors open.”

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