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Mission accomplished: Festival for Families surpasses $400,000 mark

Posted: Monday, Dec 9th, 2013

A crowd watches and cheers as Zach Bateman gets his hair cut and styled at last Saturday’s Festival for Families. Bateman earned $1,000 for the charity organization by allowing the high bidder to take clippers and scissors to his lucious locks. The generosity of bidders helped raise $54,000 on the night, putting the cumulative total of funds raised by the non-profit organization at over $419,000.

EVANSTON — The Festival for Families began a little over 10 years ago as an idea over a beer at Kate’s. Founders of the event, which includes Rusty and Trudy Lym, and Chris and Loretta Gerrard, wanted to find a way to help the less fortunate during the holiday season.

Since its inception, the Festival for Families has now raised more than $419,000 for those less fortunate.

And while there is much focus to help the needy during the holiday season, the broad reach of the organization extends far beyond the holidays, helping those in need during critical times throughout the year.

According to board member Rusty Lym, the festival raised more than $54,000 during this year’s event. On Saturday, Rusty Lym implored those gathered at the festival to dig deep into their pockets and help the organization meet it’s goal to eclipse $400,000 in cumulative funds raised.

“We want to see if we can raise more than $400,000 .... We need everybody’s help to get there,” he told the large crowd that filled the Roundhouse in Evanston.

With drawings, raffles and auctions, the Festival for Families was able to surpass that goal rather easily Saturday evening.

Highlights from Saturday’s event included a haircut for Zach Bateman, which was auctioned for $1,000. Bateman agreed to have his hair shorn in any style, which he would then wear for a week. It didn’t take long for the high bidders to get busy with the clippers on Saturday, giving Zach a memorable style.

In addition, a live auction raised several thousand dollars, with such items as golf trips to Mesquite, a catered dinner and wine tasting, VIP Jazz tickets, handcrafted furniture and décor and many other unique items.

A $10 admission ticket gave festivalgoers hors d’oeuvres, choice between prime rib and chicken cordon bleu and a chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes.

Deb Allport won the grand prize, a $2,000 Walmart gift card. Dave Madia won a rifle and scope.

Natasha Harris won $1,000 cash and Chip Roden won a new laptop computer.

Families in need may be recommended in writing to the Festival for Families by sending an email to festivalforfamilies2012@gmail.com. No phone calls for recommendations will be accepted.

The festival provides not only presents for needy families, but helps to buy food for those in need, as well as other financial assistance, as approved by the board. In addition, the festival helps families going through other types of trauma and financial emergency, such as house fires or other unforeseen hardships.

“We’d like to thank everyone who came to the event, and everyone who participated, either by donating auction items or just by helping out,” Rusty Lym told the Herald Monday. “All in all, it was a fantastic night. It turned out perfect. We ended up surpassing our goal of $400,000 thanks to everyone’s help. We made $54,000 that night. It’s a great community event.”

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