The entire cafeteria, Third Course Bistro and lower hallways of Timberline Secondary were opened up to the Campbell River Rotary Club and their efforts to send a shipping container full of wheelchairs to Guatemala in 2018 on Saturday night, and they made excellent use of the space.
Tables of silent auction items greeted those in attendance when they entered the school, representing tens of thousands of dollars worth of donations to the cause from generous community members and local businesses.
Behind those tables stretched a buffet the likes of which many will have never seen.
North Island College culinary arts students, instructors – along with local chefs – had prepared a feast of cultural offerings for the crowd, including (but certainly not limited to) empanadas, Guatemalan jocon de pollo with a pumpkin garlic tomato sauce, frijoles negro, pico de gallo-topped baked salmon and chimichuri-topped locally-raised pork roast.
Local band Reunion kept the crowd dancing all night, with periodic breaks to announce where the fundraising total was – their goal was to raise enough for the whole container (280 wheelchairs) throughout the night from ticket sales, auction items and their profits from bar sales.
The big-ticket auction items were tickets for two anywhere WestJet flies, pizza parties and paella dinners for up to 50 people and other custom dinners from renowned local chefs, guided fishing tours and limited edition prints, but there were also everything from barbecues to ceramics to gift certificates and record collections on offer in the silent auction section of the festivities.
According to Tony Fantillo, who helped organize the event, the total raised from that one night was approximately $46,000, “which is a little short of a full container, but donations are still coming in, and people can still donate,” he says, saying they are only 20 wheelchairs short of a full load, so they are confident they can still reach their goal before they have to place the order.
Middle: A supporter takes a sample from the enormous dish of prawn, squid and chorizo paella, one of many such offerings available throughout the night. Bottom: Barry Peters accepts a bid during the live auction portion of the evening, which saw everything from plane tickets to dinners for 50 auctioned off to the highest bidder.