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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 12:55

Unique fundraiser to benefit GPC’s welding department

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Welding instructor Jared McKenzie welcomed guests to the auction in 2013. Welding instructor Jared McKenzie welcomed guests to the auction in 2013.

The second edition of a unique fundraiser will help the welding department of the Great Plains College in Swift Current. The college offers a certificate program in that trade.


The Carhartts and Caviar Welding Fundraising Auction will be Feb. 27 at the at the Great Plains College’s Swift Current Campus. While welding torches and caviar doesn’t sound like  a tradition blend, it worked for the college last year.
In 2013, the event raised $10,000 which went to purchase equipment and helped fund scholarships for the welding program.
The auction portion of the evening includes the sale of unique and one-of-a-kind works by the students upon which patrons bid. Last year’s highest bid was a fire pit commemorating the Swift Current Broncos’ 1989 Memorial Cup championship. It went for $1,700.
This year,  Marc Butikofer, Great Plains’ director of development, says the works look equally as enticing.
In total, there will be eight pieces available for auction this year.
“The pieces are as spectacular as the pieces were last year,” explains Butikofer. “The theme for the auction is the Swift Current Centennial so there is a connection to the history of the community and region to each piece. We will be posting the pieces on our Facebook page over the next two weeks.”
Besides the obvious financial gain, Butikofer says the event helps the program in a number of other ways.
“Beyond being a great fundraiser for the College, this event provides practical experience for our students. The experience of designing, building and finishing the pieces enhances the program,” explains Butikofer. “Additionally, the event provides an opportunity for the college to showcase its trades programs in a non-traditional way. We are proud that the majority of our students go on to find jobs in the region and this event allows employers in the region to see what our students and our program have to offer.”
“Carhartts and Caviar was a success in 2013 because of the dedication of our students and support of our community, and we’re happy to see that support continue to grow in 2014,” said welding instructor Jared McKenzie in a prepared statement. “There aren’t too many fundraisers that offer you the chance to buy something truly unique that will never be replicated and we’re excited to once again be able to offer that opportunity to our supporters.”
This is a Swift Current Centennial Celebration event,  and has sponsors which include possible local employers down the road: Diamond Energy, Fabro, Honey Bee Manufacturing, Husky Oil, Integrity Testing, New Edge, Paradise Consulting, REM, and the Wheatland Machine Shop. Southwest TV News is also a sponsor.
Butikofer is pleased with how the event is coming along saying it’s “going great.” He notes after the success of the first auction, they were able to find additional sponsors who saw the value in partnering with the college on the event.
“This year we have also had two employers, Wheatland Machine Shop and S3 Enterprises, who have contributed pieces of their own for the auction,” adds Butikofer. “Again, the students have outdone themselves with the pieces and our instructor, Jared McKenzie, has been a tremendous mentor for them.”
Butikofer added ticket sales are extremely brisk. They have had to open up an additional 30 tickets for the event. There are only a few tickets left and college officials expect to have a full house of 240 people for the evening.
Tickets are $25 and available at Swift Current Campus or one of the main sponsors Acklands-Grainger. For more information, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (306) 778-5482.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor