Military charities and support groups are hurting; Round Up can help turn that around

The wind seems to have been taken from the sails of charities that benefit military members, and these stranded lifeboats need a breath of fresh air from its fellow Airmen at Hill Air Force Base. One of the few large-scale fundraisers at Hill AFB that benefits more than 13 programs that help Hill Airmen and their families will kick off Oct. 2 at Club Hill, starting at 6 p.m.

The event is the 388th Spouses Round Up, an annual auction where all proceeds are donated to the bases' quality-of-life programs, which raised more than $30,000 in 2008. This year the event organizers hope to surpass that amount to close the gap other charities may experience due to declining donations and fundraiser fatigue.

"We'll do our best to help those in need this year," said Rhiannon Lucero, who is coordinating ticket sales for the fundraising event. Lucero adds that, although a specific number has not been targeted, the 388th Spouses group hopes to exceed funds raised in previous years to meet the needs of all organizations the funds will benefit.

Army Times, a non-governmental newspaper that covers the military, recently reported that military charities, such as Fisher House Foundation and Marine Semper Fi Fund, are suffering more than 30-percent declines in donations. The newspaper reports that a combination of the recession and donor fatigue as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stretch on are to blame.

Lucero says the Round Up event has been a strong fundraiser for the past eight years and believes the success of the event can be attributed to the fun events scheduled throughout the evening as well as the sense of camaraderie among the base's community supporters that is fostered by the event. "The spouses enjoy coming together to do something special and personal for the military. It's also a good opportunity to have fun and invite our honorary commanders and other community supporters to an event they can lend their support toward. They get to see what is going on here and see how they can be active in their support."

Those attending the Round Up event will get more for their money other than a plethora of auction item, such as a golf glove signed by Tiger Woods that is authenticated by Upper Deck, signed prints by aviation artist Roy Grinnell with signatures from several fighter aces and a Sundance film festival package. The event will also feature a Chuck wagon buffet dinner, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, a mechanical bull, a live disc jockey and a mock-jail. The sheriff, who will be played by Chief Master Sgt. Atticus Smith, 388th Fighter Wing command chief, will lock up guests at the request of donors and the "prisoner" will have to solicit counter-donations to make bail.

The event is open to anyone with access to Hill AFB and their community guests. Lucero says community guests will need to pre-register in order to be placed on a guest list at the base gates.

"The event is open to everyone ages 18 and older, and we have items to fit all budgets" says one of the event's coordinators, Felicia Russell. She says some auction items will start as low as $20.

Tickets are $15 if purchased before Sept. 25, and $17 thereafter, which includes the price of the buffet dinner. A $5 at-the-door-only price will also be available for those who do not wish to eat the buffet dinner.

Lucero also notes that corporate sponsorships are still available before the Sept. 25 deadline. For a donation of $500 or more, sponsors will receive 10 event tickets with a reserved table and an advertisement in the event's program.

For information, contact Felicia Russell, via e-mail at

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