Foremost Library has solid backing of community

Traditionally, Foremost Library supporters have met at the community hall for their fundraiser.

The Foremost Municipal Library’s Annual Pumpkin Festival Fundraiser is a well known and highly anticipated event as both a social event which takes place at the Community Hall around Halloween, but it is also the beloved library’s go-to event for funding.

When Covid-19 hit and the Alberta Provincial Government had to implement safety measures to keep everyone safe, this meant the shutting down of different programs and events including the festival

However thank to some progressive thinking and some hard work by the board, the final totals online auction officially raised over $19,000 as per a Dec. 14 post on its Facebook page.

Foremost village council rep and library board chairperson Stewart Payne was pleased with the totals. He said there was a lot of work put in by everyone involved but was grateful for two contributors of the Library Board.

“We have a youth advisor (Jordan Kurtzweg), who recommend and a couple of the other board members who had also seen other associations hosting online auctions and so we thought ‘yeah, let’s just do that.” Even if they do lift restrictions even to 100 people, that’s not everybody we normally get. How do we let so many people in and not everybody who wants to so we just made the decision ‘yup, let’d do this virtually.” 

Kurtzweg was delegated the responsibility of finding the format of the auction like a Facebook Live type or some aspect of social media.

“He did some really good research and came up with the Auctria program and that requires a membership, we purchased a membership, he learned how to do it, we learned how to do it,” explains Payne. “He and Aimee Klatt were very instrumental in getting all the donations included in the auction website and getting it up and running. .. those two individual stepped up, above and beyond anybody else to get our auction ready to go.”

They had a lot of same items for auction between Oct. 30-Nov. 6 like they traditionally have including gift certificates and different items. They also received cash donations too. 

There were two main concerns. One was that there were other area-related online events which had been scheduled and the concern was the donations would dry up. 

“We were concerned. Everybody loves the social event. Our auction is later in the year and maybe members of the community have donated to other (fundraisers) throughout the year and maybe by the end of the year their pocketbooks are a little tighter, especially leading up until Christmas,” explains Payne. “Historically speaking, it was a community event and the community supported it. A lot of the community members who show up to the live event are elderly and maybe the technology is not quite fresh to them. We were concerned that maybe we would wouldn’t have a lot of people log in and participate in the auction. We also knew the expense.s related to it. Going online reduced the upfront expenses to host such an event. We thought we are going to at least make our expenses back and more. It might be a tight year this year.  We kinda expected it but at the end there when all was said and done we were quite pleased for the support we got.

“We didn’t really have a goal in mind and we really didn’t set our sights on hoping we would receive something, but it was nice the community stepped up and supported us pretty similar to those in the past.”

Payne, who heads the County of 40 Mile Municipal Enforcement, Utilities and Director of Emergency Management, isn’t sure what they will do next year. A lot of depends on the pandemic situation and whether or not similar restrictions are in place. He notes that despite all the hard work of Kurtzweg and Klatt, the online auction was simpler to organize and took less physical set up. They are still tossing around different ideas and scenarios, but they won’t worry about that until early next year. A lot can happen between now and then. 

“(The board members) all do want that live event but we feel there might be some sort of benefit of a hybrid and maybe having just the silent auction, but not the live or just having the live and not the silent. We’re throwing out options like this but it’s a little too early. We are just coming down off of our event and settling for Christmas. We regain our board meetings early in the new year and then start addressing those thoughts and options again.”

The Library is currently closed to in-person visits from December 15th to January 8th. A message on socia media says patrons are asked to use their phones or computers to access catalogues and choose items.  The catalog is website at foremost.shortgrass.ca. After you have used the catalog hold system, and received confirmation of your items availability, please call to arrange a pickup time.

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