Signed footballs sold for hundreds of dollars, and one bidder bought a mattress for nearly $1,300, after beating out the Garner police chief in a bidding war.
That was the scene at the sixth annual Cooks for Books event at Garner TV & Appliance. Hundreds of people were there to raise money for children in the local schools. Spring Zuidema, the co-chair for the Cooks for Books committee, said the fundraiser raised about $10,000, which was the goal she said she set before the event.
More money is expected to come in.
Those funds came from ticket sales, corporate sponsors, tips at the bar and the auction money.
All of the funds raised go to the Garner Education Foundation, which uses it for its literacy programs that help at-risk youth. It is the main fundraiser for the foundation.
Some of those programs include the SCOR (Schools & Community Organized to Read) program, the storytelling festival and the media centers for the area schools to buy books.
“I think Garner is such a special community,” Zuidema said. “It’s a place where it is truly a group of people who care about one another and support one another. And I feel we are very fortunate that we have such a giving community.”
She referred to it as a “rare” community nowadays.
“And I’ve lived all over,” Zuidema said. “I’ve lived in New York, I’ve lived in Virginia, and nothing feels like Garner. I believe they really care about our children.”
Zuidema said the planning for the event begins in October. Last year’s theme was a professional cookoff and amateur cookoff.
She said some of the principals this year wanted to be more involved.
The police and fire departments, and each of the local principals from Rand Road Elementary, East Garner Elementary, East Garner Middle School, North Garner Middle, Garner High and others participated in a chilli cook off. In the end, East Garner Elementary Principal Carmen Graf’s chili took home the title for “Best Chili.”
Professional chefs from area restaurants also participated in a contest for tailgating food. And in what has been a common occurence, MoonRunners Saloon took home the prize.
Sue King, of the Garner Education Foundation, who helps raise money for scholarships, said the foundation has done well because of the support from the businesses in the area.
“They are so supportive of the schools,” King said. “If we don’t ask them to participate, they will come and ask us if they can participate. We’re very fortunate to have a business community and the people in the community to support what we’re doing.
“They want to see Garner’s children do well. And I think they just have a lot of pride in the community.”