Witnesses described the early November scene as a bustling one: parking lots at the Woodburn Estates & Golf (WEG) were filled with cars, people coming and going into the auditorium; pickup trucks and cars loaded with big items, barbecue grills, decorated metal patio table and 2 chairs, pizza oven and decorated baskets filled with a variety of beautifully displayed items.

Moreover, delightful aromas permeated the air from food cooked in the kitchen throughout the day, and the WEG Auditorium was transformed into a field of sunflowers with resplendent fall colors and decorations.

It was the 8th Annual Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of North Marion County Gala Dinner and Auction fundraiser.

Love INC serves low-income families and individuals with a variety of services such as clothing/shoes, personal and home care items, gas vouchers, baby furniture/equipment, diapers, utility assistance and a monthly dental van. A new service has been added to the long list of services, and that is suicide awareness and prevention (QPR) training. This training is available at no cost for the local government, businesses, individuals, and families.

In addition, Love INC provides referrals to other community resources. Love INC facilitates a monthly meeting with representatives from a variety of local and state service organizations, churches, and non-profit organizations to share resources and collaborate on specific personal and community needs.

Records show that in 2022 Love INC served upwards of 4,000 individuals representing more than 1,000 households, which amounted to a 43% increase from 2021. It is estimated that numbers served in 2023 will increase from the previous year’s; traffic has increased and needs are greater.

This was the first time this fundraising event was held at WEG. It provided a great opportunity for local businesses, schools, churches, local/county governments, and individuals, to show their support by providing donations, financial sponsorships, and attendance at the event.

Love INC Board of Directors and Executive Director Rosetta Wangerin expressed their gratitude to WEG for this partnership, which they stressed could not have happened if not for the generosity of WEG members.

“The Copper Ridge band provided wonderful country music during the social hour,” Wangerin shared. “The delicious dinner was prepared by Robin Mallory and Tami Wheeler and served by local high school students from Woodburn Foursquare Church and Woodburn Young Life.“

She added that tip jars were provided at each table, and it was with great pride that the dinner guest tips – totaling $1,100 — was collected for the students.

“It is my understanding these funds will go to the student schools for summer camp,” she added.

The Love INC NMC board revealed that the nonprofit’s fundraiser likely exceeded its goal of raising $40,000.00, funds that will keep the doors open to continue helping clients throughout the region who desperately need the many services provided.

“A huge, big thank you goes to all our local businesses and individuals who donated items or money to this worthy cause, but also to the many volunteers from the community, family members, Love INC and Woodburn Estates & Golf Homeowners Association dedicated volunteers,” Wangerin enthused. “Thank you for your community spirit.”