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Humane Society takes in $25,000 while honoring Deal

BANNER ELK — In a blowout success, Avery County Humane Society managed to rake about $25,000 at a luncheon held in honor of Rachel Deal, who just turned 90 years old.

The event on Aug. 22 at Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk featured puppies, silent and live auctions, food, adoptable dog cakes and speakers to let everyone in on what Deal has done for the humane society and the county.

Deal, a longtime Crossnore resident and volunteer for a number of causes in Avery County, was front and center for one of her favorite organizations.

The event sold 130 tickets, which would already have resulted in a $5,000 profit for the Humane Society. Adding in auction sales, donations, “adopted” cakes and bottles of wine, and the event ended up being more of a success than anticipated.

“It was oversold,” Humane Society Executive Director Gwynne Dyer said.

The humane society also raised money by putting together a memory book, which different organizations in the area purchased space for messages to Deal.

The funds will all go to the humane society’s programs.

A number of notable county residents came out to say a few words and honor Deal. Jesse Pope of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, local celebrity Tommy Burleson, Crossnore Mayor Jesse Smith and others all had things to say about Deal’s decades of volunteer service and her role in the community.

The humane society cares for about 100 animals at a time, and is a no-kill shelter, something Dyer said is a distinction only a few shelters in the state have.

Dyer also spoke during the lunch, telling a story about Brutus, a large dog who was great with people but could not interact with other dogs. Brutus required a special owner with no other animals who could also handle the dog on walks. After a long stay at the shelter and a lot of care, someone who could meet Brutus’ needs finally adopted him.

The humane society does not receive any public funding from the state or county, being completely funded by private donations and fundraising, and provides low-cost vaccination clinics, spay and neutering, and will even fix and vaccinate outdoor cats at no cost.

“Everybody’s support and kindness, we can’t thank you enough,” Dyer said tearfully.

Deal said everyone had at the event had made her so happy.

FAF raises $15,000 from annual Empty Bowls event

LINVILLE LAND HARBOR — Feeding Avery Families’ annual Empty Bowls returned on August 24 to bring out the community for soup and functional crafts.

The nonprofit’s major annual fundraiser managed to take in about $15,000, a significant part of its annual budget.

Empty Bowls is an international project to address hunger. Each Empty Bowls event has its own flavor, but the ultimate goal of the format is the same.

As people came through the door at the Linville Land Harbor Recreation Complex, they were greeted by a volunteer taking donations at a table. Donors could give any amount and pick out their own handmade bowl of the more than 400 on offer.

A large part of the bowls were donated by art students at Avery County High School.

“They’re the first bowls that they’ve ever made,” Patti Connor-Greene, the pottery lead for the event, said.

Connor-Greene added there are also bowls from professional potters who have been plying the craft for more than 50 years in the mix, adding to the creativity on display at the event.

“When I think about this event, I think about it as being a combination of creativity and generosity in the community,” Connor-Greene said, adding every bowl on the table represented a different personality.

This year the media expanded to woven and wooden bowls as well as other media, though the bowls were still predominantly clay.

FAF distributes thousands of pounds to food-insecure county residents each month. Executive Director Dick Larson said the event has expanded each year.

“We may be approaching the limit to that,” Larson said.

The annual budget FAF has for food is about $65,000 a year. That purchases a significant amount of food from its vendors in addition to donated food.

This year the nonprofit will distribute more than 450,000 pounds of food, up from 167,000 just two years ago.

The number of families the nonprofit serves has increased from 1,000 to 1,200, and now each family is receiving about double the amount of food, leaving FAF’s Newland center with 60 to 65 pounds. Despite the massive increase in output, Larson said there is still more to do.

“There are 2,500 to 3,000 people in the county that are food insecure that would be eligible for what we do,” Larson said. “So there’s a huge unmet need.”

Larson said the biggest part of Empty Bowls is the community exposure the organization receives.

A silent auction was also held at the event.

AJT welcomes Rice as fall intern

NEWLAND — Mountain Times Publications and The Avery Journal-Times news team is pleased to welcome the addition of Grayson Rice as the newspaper’s fall intern. Rice began working with The AJT on August 26.

Rice is originally from Raleigh and is in her third year at Appalachian State University. She is a double major in Journalism and Public Relations, with a minor in Political Science, and is in the Honors College with a senior thesis focusing on sexual assault on college campuses.

“I absolutely love the field of Journalism and believe that it is crucial for our democracy,” Rice said. “That being said, I hope this internship is a way to really branch out and see all that the field has to offer. I also aspire to attend graduate school and further my education. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner, and in all aspects of life I hope to continue to learn and grow.”

Rice is eager to begin her time in Newland with Avery County’s Newspaper of Record, and looks forward to the myriad areas of coverage and experience the position has to offer.

“As a journalism major, I really wanted an experience to explore this work out in the real world. The Avery Journal provided such a unique opportunity for me being that I could learn a diversity of skills,” Rice added. “I was absolutely thrilled when I got to go into the office and meet [AJT Editor] Jamie [Shell].”

Outside of school, Rice is Judicial Chairman in Zeta Tau Alpha as well as a volunteer in the Appalachian State University Women’s Center. She enjoys traveling and recently had the opportunity to go backpacking in Iceland. With free weekends, she enjoys the outdoors, including backpacking, hiking and caving.

Rice will be working with The AJT on news, government coverage, features and weekly assignments, as well as contribute to The AJT’s online platforms and coordinated efforts with other Mountain Times Publications seasonal products and special sections.

“We are excited to have Grayson join our team here with The AJT. She has a distinct passion for all facets of journalism and is eager to learn more about the field as a career and be part of our community and Avery County,” The AJT editor Jamie Shell said. “Grayson has a personality and hunger for news, and has a genuine concern for the people and stories of this area. She has a bright future and will be a valuable asset to our publication during her time with us this semester.”

Rice can be reached by email at grayson.rice@averyjournal.com.