PAWS for Love Silent Auction and Gala funds vet care and equipment for Cedar Rapids shelter animals

PAWS for Love Silent Auction & Gala

Eastbank Venue & Lounge — Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.

Photo courtesay of Friends Helping Friends Foundation

In the last year, the Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control (CRACC) center was able to install a 60-by-40 foot fenced-in exercise area and agility course in the back of their facility to help train dogs.

It was also able to give lifesaving veterinary care to numerous animals, including a black lab who needed three sugeries after pieces of a broken sewing needle were found lodged in his paw. Just this December, they amputated the leg of a stray kitten with major frostbite.

These procedures, along with dental and surgical equipment, kennel beds, cat climbing structures and more, were purchased without spending a dime of the CRACC’s budget. All funding came from the nonprofit Friends Helping Friends Foundation of Cedar Rapids — specifically, their PAWS for Love event.

Saturday marks the seventh incarnation of the PAWS for Love Silent Auction and Gala, which raised $20,000 last year from 250 ticket sales and 150 auction items. CRACC Program Director Diane Webber expects even more guests this year to bid on 180 items.

“When it first started we only had 60 people and 50 items,” Webber said. “This year we had to move to a new venue — we outgrew the other one.”

The 2018 event is taking place at the Eastbank Venue and Lounge in downtown Cedar Rapids and features catered food, from shrimp platters and meat trays to vegetarian and vegan offerings like the portabello mushroom-stuffed vegetable rolls.

“It’s so much fun, you wouldn’t believe it,” Webber said. “The band plays excellent music in the background, while people go through the silent auction and bid against each other. It’s just a lot of comradrie.”

The George Jazz Group will set the tone for the evening, as people bid on items such as a Pet Rover stroller (about a $200 value), robotic cat litter box (a $500 value) and veterinary package that includes surgeries and blood tests (at least a $400 value).

The three largest items will be sold in a live auction: a Chicago getaway including hotels, dinner and tickets to the Joffrey Ballet and Macbeth; the first pitch at a Kernels game with a leather mitt and ball; and over $875 worth of discounts perfect for someone planning a wedding, including spa, photography, Take the Cake bakery, White Willow Bridal Boutique and hairstyling vouchers.

All auction items are donated.

“There’s so much, I can’t believe it,” Webber said. “The gifts just kept coming and coming and coming in.”

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Webber estimates that PAWS for Love has raised well more than $50,000 during the past six years. The event used to be held during the holiday season, but Friends Helping Friends quickly found that people not only had more time around Valentine’s Day to attend parties, but the theme of love suited the program.

“People love their pets,” Webber said. “Look at what happened during hurricane season, with everybody rushing down to help the animals. It makes you feel good that you’re able to help these animals out.”

Tickets for Saturday’s event cost $40 for an individual, $75 for a couple and $300 for a table of eight. Online ticket sales end Feb. 9; though tickets may also be purchased at the door, Webber encourages nabbing tickets ahead of time so that you may save time having to register for the silent auction in-person on Saturday. Online purchasers will also receive a personalized thank-you message from Webber.

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