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Ritzville auction funds relief programs

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Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 9:00 am

RITZVILLE - Hundreds of area residents traveled to rural Ritzville for the Mennonite Country Auction Saturday.

The auction was held at the Menno Mennonite Church, and showcased dozens of handcrafted quilts and comforters. Quilts were donated by church members from as far away as Hawaii and Pennsylvania.

Visitors were also treated to live demonstrations on how apple butter and apple cider were traditionally made. Members of the church took turns stirring the apple butter pot, the contents of which must be constantly stirred during the eight-hour cooking process.

Food booths also provided visitors with homemade goods like pies, ice cream and other foods. Handmade jewelry and other household wares were available for purchase.

Funds raised during the auction will go toward funding the Mennonite Central Committee's (MCC) international service projects.

The event brought in about $119,000, which included more than $56,000 from the auction alone, according to preliminary totals. The auction total was one of the highest in more than 35 years, according to the event's Facebook page.

Michael Chapman, a MCC member based in Fresno, Calif., said the group has helped the less fortunate in more than 50 countries around the world.

"The funds raised here today ultimately go towards providing food, peace building and education," he said.

Chapman said he spent two weeks in Jordan and Palestine this past April and was able to see firsthand how MCC ministry programs work.

While abroad, Chapman met a 17-year-old boy who was both blind and deaf. MCC helped fund his education, and the young man received the achievement of reaching the highest level of education for a student with disabilities in Jordan.

"Now there are 10 to 12 more students like him getting an education," Chapman said. "MCC provides education to people with disabilities and Christian education to those who didn't have access."

Chapman said funds will go to refugees fleeing from Syria as a result of recent current events, and the MCC will provide them with blankets, food and clothes.

The auction started with bids for a loaf of bread. According to auctioneers, previous auctions have traditionally started with the sale of a loaf of bread.

The bread symbolizes all the projects that the church participates in, and their work to spread their Christian beliefs.

This year, the loaf went to the highest bid of $1,000. The bread was set aside for the next day's morning worship.

Auctioneers Jim Stuckey, of Kansas, and Harold White, of Warden, called for bids for the last time on Saturday. The two auctioneers, who had led most of the auctions over the past 35 years, said this year's auction would be their last as auctioneers.

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