Every October, the Epworth United Methodist Church women’s group hosts a silent auction, bringing around 250 people to the Morgan Avenue house of worship for an entertaining evening of mission work fundraising.
During the summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, the United Methodist Women recognized they would be unable to hold their auction this year. But instead of canceling outright, they decided to come up with an alternate activity, one that would still bring in donations but be safe for those attending.
The inaugural Basket Extravaganza will be held from Oct. 15 to 18 at Epworth UMC and will give participants a chance to win a variety of elaborate gift baskets.
“We were trying to think of something as an alternative,” event organizer Vicki O’Brien said, “and this is what we’ve come up with.”
Those who wish to partake can visit the church between noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. There is no entrance fee, and raffle tickets are available at the door. A sheet of 25 tickets is $5, and there is no limit to how many can be purchased.
The hope is to make the event an enjoyable, safe outing for participants. Attendees must wear a face mask and adhere to social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available, and UMW members will be on hand to ensure crowding is not an issue.
“There are people out there looking for things to do,” O’Brien said. “There are so many things you can’t do right now.”
The raffle baskets are themed, appealing to a variety of interests and hobbies. There are holiday baskets for Easter and Halloween, baskets for those who love reading or cooking and a spa basket for anyone who wants a little relaxation. Many baskets include gift cards to local restaurants and shops, and church members are contributing handmade items such as quilts and baby blankets.
Winning tickets will be pulled on Sunday afternoon, and winners will be notified shortly thereafter. All money raised will benefit a variety of missions the UMW supports.
“That was one of the reasons we wanted to do something this year. The way the world is right now, we’re not sure the missions we normally give to are at the top of everyone’s list when they’re donating nowadays,” O’Brien explained.
Those missions include local efforts, such as a clergy group’s emergency fund for people in need, a neighborhood center in Camden run by the Methodist Church, UMW nursing and assisted living homes and international missions like the United Methodist Community On Relief (UMCOR).
“That’s where all the money goes,” O’Brien noted. “None of it goes to our group or our church.”
Epworth UMC is located at 501 Morgan Ave., Palmyra, and will have one clearly marked open door for the Basket Extravaganza.
Epworth UMW members are optimistic the new event will be a success.
“I would say we raise around $5,000 in our normal auction,” O’Brien reflected. “If we could raise half of that, we would be happy.”
For more information, call the church at (856) 829-1908.