Charity event raises more than $3,000 for United Way of Eastern New Mexico

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

The Live United on the Square block party raised more than $3,000 for United Way of Eastern New Mexico and drew about 200 people Thursday evening, organizers estimated.

Organizer Karen Inge of Valley Furniture hopes to hold it again next year, only earlier in the year to avoid the cold.

“We did great,” she said of this year’s event.

United Way of Eastern New Mexico Executive Director Erinn Burch said the money will go to the United Way campaign that is just beginning. United Way funds eight Roosevelt County organizations.

The festival on the square featured music, hot dogs, a dunking booth, dancers, sales and silent auctions at businesses and a celebrity stick horse race.

Burch said the stick horse race was fun and brought out a competitive spirit. The race between the police and firefighters was fierce.

“They weren’t poking along,” Burch said.

Twenty racers participated, after raising money to determine their starting positions. Robin Inge of Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative Inc. raised the most pre-race money, $1,000, with the help of her co-workers, while Kevin Bond of First Community Bank had the fastest stick horse.

Event attendee Wendy Turner, Karen Inge’s niece, said the experience was fun. Her 11-year-old son, Zach, enjoyed dunking his principal, Michael Terry of Valencia Elementary School, in the dunking booth.

“He just thought that was the neatest thing in the world,” Turner said.

Among other activities, Turner visited Crafty Creations for the first time and plans to return.

“I just can’t believe how much they have in there,” she said.

Next year, Turner would like to see more United Way-funded organizations set up information booths so people can see what they do.

Suzi Webb, owner of The Main Place, stayed open late and had a silent auction fundraiser.

“We had a very decent turn out,” she said.

Lori Bollema, owner of the Bread Basket, prepared 100 hot dogs for Live United and had 23 left after the event. She said it went well.

Scott Davis of Valley Furniture started the event by asking his employees to plan a United Way fundraiser.

“The first year’s always a learning process,” Davis said. “I definitely see this going forward. My employees did a bang-up job.”

Celebrity Stick Horse Race Top Four

1. Kevin Bond, First Community Bank

2. Dennis Lopez, Mental Health Resources Inc.

3. Ron Jackson, Portales City councilor

4. Robin Inge, Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative Inc.