Each year, the annual Carrie Young Memorial Dinner and Auction reflects the generosity and goodwill of the Grant County community, growing in donations and attendance since it began 25 years ago.
Lucie Immoos created the event to honor her older sister, Carrie Young, who was killed in an automobile accident in Alaska in 1993.
After her death, the Young family discovered that Carrie, who had worked at the Blue Mountain Care Center in Prairie City, purchased gifts each Christmas for residents of the home without family.
Immoos wanted to maintain that tradition and created the Carrie Young Memorial Drive for the Elderly in 1993. Little did she know how big that tradition would become. This year, the event raised $31,000.
That money is used to purchase heating supplies, from furnace oil, propane and firewood to groceries and other needed supplies for hundreds of elderly residents.
“They’re a proud generation — they don’t ask for help,” Immoos said.
Beneficiaries include 250 to 300 seniors who live at home that Immoos’ supporters keep track of, along with residents at Valley View Assisted Living, Blue Mountain Care Center, Mothers Creek senior home and Cinnabar Adult Foster Care Home.
“Word gets around about who needs assistance,” Immoos said. “There are a lot of elves in the community.”
Immoos and eight helpers traveled to Ontario right after the event to purchase requested supplies for the seniors. She and two others then continued on to Boise, Idaho, to complete the shopping.
Many businesses in the community — along with the Pendleton Round-Up and the Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton — contribute items to the fundraiser, Immoos said.
The donations, ranging from food and drink, power tools, sporting goods and toys to tickets to events, accumulate in the HECS warehouse at the John Day Industrial Park where a crew assembles them into themed gift baskets.
Mike and Sharrie Slinkard donate the warehouse space. Terri Bowden, owner of A Flower Shop And More, leads a team including Immoos, Dawn Wood and Emma Anspach in selecting various items that might go together in a gift basket.
“Terri is the editor,” Immoos said.
There’s a lot of imagination involved — items of a similar color might be put together, but the team also creates humorous items each year such as a “Bad Mom” gift basket. This year, 290 gift baskets were assembled and brought to John Day Elks Lodge for the silent auction.
“That’s slightly more than last year,” Immoos said.
Among the standout items included a 6-foot-tall doll house made by Pete Allen of Mt. Vernon, a wooden rocking bench made by Gordon Orr of Prairie City, a big elk horn with scrimshaw by Bill Immoos, a butcher block table made by Mark Immoos and a trampoline donated by John Day True Value.
The winner of the raffle for a Ruger American Predator rifle donated by Nydam’s Ace Hardware was Kim Grove. Raffle winners for the cords of firewood were Cynthia Jackson, Brian Hubbard, Kate Cueno and Kevin and Cindy Nelson. The firewood was donated by recently deceased John Short as well as Chris Gibson, Steve and Susie Combs, Blue Mountain Care Center and Duane Stokes.
A big-ticket item the past two years has been prints from the No-Tellum Ridge series by North American wildlife artist Leon Parson. Todd Donahue, who bought last year’s Parson print, posted the winning bid again this year. The prints were donated by the deceased Charlie O’Rorke and his widow, Jan O’Rorke.
“Charlie was one of the most revered loggers in the county,” Immoos said.
Immoos’ sister Christie Winegar heads up a kitchen crew each year that cooks a big spaghetti feed for all the visitors. The tables quickly filled with smiling diners.