At the Keep the Heat On benefit auction last week, Susan Messinger told the story behind a solo wooden canoe her husband John had made to help raise funds for the nonprofit organization. Holding a poster for the canoe was Valerie Scarborough. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
January 23, 2019PLYMOUTH – The theme of this year's Keep the Heat On fundraising dinner and auction was "Under the Sea" and the overflow crowd that attended last Wednesday evening's event was over the moon about the wide array of food that was served, along with the numerous items up for bid.
Keep the Heat On is a nonprofit organization serving residents of 15 towns in the Pemi-Baker Region through assistance with fuel costs, whether that be gas, oil, propane, wood pellets, coal or cord wood. Established 14 years ago by the Plymouth Area Democrats and partnered with the Plymouth Area Community Closet, they have raised more than $470,000 to meet those needs over the years.
"We provide 125 gallons of fuel per family once each winter. Imagine if we had resources to provide even more," said KTHO Chair Martha Richards, who served as emcee for the night.
The goal for this year's fundraiser was $55,000, but before the evening even got underway, Richards was pleased to note they had already received more than $40,000 in ticket sales and donations.
That was good news for the organization, which has already received 78-percent of last winter's total requests for assistance, with many more cold days yet to come.
Helping to boost this year's coffers was a silent auction filled with all types of local art and craftsmanship as well as gift cards to area resorts, recreation areas and restaurants.
As people wrote down their bids, they were entertained by local pianist David Lockwood and enjoyed hor d'oeuvres served by members of Plymouth Regional High School's National Honor Society.
Raffle tickets were also on sale for other great prizes like a case of Rattlesnake Pale Ale from Squam Brewing, a hand-quilted throw from Sherry Sinclair, and an original framed pastel painting by Bill Haust.
Terry Dautcher conducted the live auction with nine other exciting items up for grabs that night. There was a bird tour of the Lakes Region to kick off the bidding, followed by two separate two-day stays in either a cabin or a guest cottage on Squam Lake; an oil painting by Cam Sinclair; a three course dinner for four by Chef Wavell Fogelman; an original Annette Mitchell block print; a three-day getaway in Nantucket; and an African Safari for two that had a minimum bid of $2,500.
The most touching item coming to the auction block however was a hand-crafted solo canoe built by the late Dr. John Messinger. His wife Susan introduced the item, explaining that her husband spent six-months last year building the canoe from a cedar strip kit he purchased at Newfound Woodworks in Bristol. Dr. Messinger's plan was to donate the canoe to the KTHO fundraiser, but he died suddenly this past October. Susan however decided to follow through with his intent and the "Wee Lassie" canoe brought in an additional $1,100 in his honor.
Dinner for the evening was a sampling of specialty dishes, appetizers and desserts from area eateries. Among those from Plymouth were Fugaky; Big Daddy Joe's; PHAT Fish; Lucky Dog Tavern; Italian Farmhouse; Thai Smile; Six Burner Bistro; George's Seafood and BBQ; Foster's at the Common Man Inn; 1766 Brewing Co.; Last Chair; Chase Market; Burrito Me; Frosty Scoops; Downtown Pizza; and Café Monte Alto. Participating restaurants from Campton were Mad River Tavern; Sunset Grill; Covered Bridge Farm Table; and Full Circle Food Truck and Big Stan's Catering. Walter's Basin and Annie's Over Flow represented Holderness with their specialties, while The Common Man in Ashland, the Common Café and Tavern in Rumney, and Rumney Village Store rounded out the buffet table with their great entrees and desserts, too.
Richards said she was pleased to see so many come out in support of Keep the Heat On, and was especially grateful for the generosity of all the sponsors.
"It gives us such a good feeling to see their support every year. It truly does take a whole village to do this," she said.