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4-H Foundation Annual Gala Event Raises $14,000

RIO RANCHO-The 4-H Youth Development Foundation's second annual Sparkles and Spurs Gala fund-raiser Sept. 6 in Rio Rancho earned about $14,000 for 4-H youth programs in New Mexico.



4-H state ambassador Lindsay Thomen shows 4-H foundation past president Marc Christensen a denim shirt that was auctioned off during the foundation's annual gala fund-raiser Sept. 6. The event raised about $14,000 for the 4-H youth development program. Christensen is accompanied by his wife, Diane Christensen (right), and Laura Hall. (09/10/2003) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"We had a great response from individuals and corporations," said Jimmie Hall, the foundation's executive director. "The annual fund-raiser is a great way for people to contribute to youth development in New Mexico, because the funds directly benefit youngsters in the 4-H youth program."

Gala proceeds allow the foundation to underwrite scholarships, 4-H members' travel to state and national events and 4-H awards. Volunteers from around the state run the foundation, which formed in 1986.

In recent years, the foundation has raised $60,000 to $70,000 annually, Hall said. About 50 percent comes from corporate and individual donations and the rest from grants, the gala event and an annual golf tournament in Las Cruces that raised about $7,000 this year.

The $100-per-plate benefit dinner at the Chamisa Hills Country Club raised about $10,000, including donations from 13 corporate sponsors, such as Public Service Company of New Mexico, Roswell-based gas and oil firm Harvey E. Yates Co., Xcel Energy, and Don Chalmers Ford in Albuquerque. The Fannie Mae New Mexico Partnership Office was the primary sponsor, contributing $3,300 to the event, Hall said.

A live auction earned $2,000, with a wide array of donated items that included western art, New Mexico gift baskets, custom-made jewelry, and a Taos ski package. A silent auction with items provided by the county 4-H councils earned another $2,000 that will be returned to the contributing county councils.

"The foundation is a freestanding group that's done a lot to boost opportunities for outstanding 4-H members to continue to learn and grow," said Charolette Collins, a home economist and family strengthening specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. Collins is also a foundation board member who helped organize the fund-raiser.

Extension directs the 4-H youth development program. About 50,000 youngsters and 5,000 adult volunteers currently participate in 4-H in New Mexico, which provides fun, educational activities that teach kids 5 to 19 years old to become productive citizens.

"People think 4-H is just an agricultural-based program, but it's so much more," said Dennis Holmberg, foundation president. "In addition to traditional things like raising and judging animals, it offers fun activities like cooking, archery, and model rocketry, as well as educational opportunities such as public speaking and working with computers. 4-H has been teaching the basics of 'character counts' before there was ever a 'character counts' program."

For more information about 4-H, call your county Extension office.