Wildhorse Resort & Casino donated funds to Farmers Ending Hunger through their raffle and silent auction at last weekend’s Sawyer Brown Concert and Barn Dance.
A total of $2,500 was raised during the event.
“The Barn Dance is something we have been considering for a while,” said Juliana Luke, Events Manager for Wildhorse Resort & Casino. “We wanted to create a signature event to host each fall that we can build upon. Future fall events could involve golf or different themes. The Sawyer Brown concert was a great foundation.”
“Knowing Sawyer Brown would be popular, we started thinking about how we could enhance our guests experience,” Luke said. “We ultimately decided on a cool Barn Dance, barbeque dinner and a charitable component for the first year.”
Tiah DeGrofft, Community Relations for Wildhorse, mentioned a group she had recently become familiar with that she thought would have a good tie to the barn dance. That organization was Farmers Ending Hunger. In 2004, Farmers Ending Hunger founder Fred Ziari attended a meeting to address the state’s hunger problem. He was surprised to see Oregon listed as the hungriest state in America, with 25 percent of the population eating less than one meal a day. Speaking with Farmers right here in Umatilla County, they agreed that they wanted contribute to combating the issue. Farmer Ending Hunger was born and has since grown into a statewide program in which farmers donate acres of their fresh crops to the Oregon Food Bank. Four million pounds of food are donated through Farmers Ending Hunger each year, 75 percent of which comes from farmers in Umatilla and Morrow counties. Locally, Farmers Ending Hunger and the Oregon Food Bank work with CAPECO to provide everything from farm fresh produce, meat, pancake mix (wheat flour) and more to residents in Eastern Oregon.
Each dollar raised for Farmers Ending Hunger helps to “adopt-an-acre.” “$2500 is enough to adopt 10 acres and feed 5,000 families of four fresh produce,” said DeGrofft. “We are honored to work with a group that is doing such important work and making such a large impact. Many of the hungriest residents we have in Oregon are children, which is just heartbreaking. Wildhorse does a wonderful job of giving back to the communities; collaborating with Farmers Ending Hunger seemed like a natural fit- neighbors helping neighbors! Our concert goers really embraced the cause as well, it was exciting to watch!”
DeGrofft collected raffle items from area businesses. “We owe a huge thank you to our friends in the community!” Items included a wine and beer basket from Graybeal Distributing, breakfast for two from Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery, a cooler and camp chairs from Pendleton Whisky, basketball and football tickets from Oregon State University, Anthony Lakes lift tickets, a Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon ticket package and a wine basket from Bontzu Cellars. The casino donated some items as well, a suite night at the Portland Winterhawks, an autographed Sawyer Brown Guitar, and a Travis Tritt VIP package.
Giving back has always been a tradition of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. While most people see and feel the effects of the funding the Wildhorse Foundation gives out annually, close to $900,000 in 2016; the Casino independently supports close to 1000 raffles, golf tournaments and fundraisers throughout the year with prize donations, as well as close to $450,000 a year to support community events through sponsorships.
“Seeing the difference Wildhorse, the Wildhorse Foundation and CTUIR make in our region is my favorite part of my job,” DeGrofft exclaimed. “It is amazing how many wonderful organizations, like Farmers Ending Hunger, we have in Eastern Oregon. We also have an awful lot of generous residents that helped us raise these funds.“