By Greg Price
For those who have helped run the Taber Charity Auction for the last 24 years, hearing the organization has won the 2019 Spirit of Taber Award for the upcoming Taber and District Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner and Awards Night, that spirit is found within Taber itself.
“To be recognized with the award, it’s a really nice thing for the Taber Charity Auction group. But I think it really is a tribute to the community,” said Jack French, who has been an organizer of the Taber Charity Auction since its inception. “There’s the 15 to 19 people we have on the board from year to year. We organize it, but really, it’s the generosity of the community that makes it so great. And for it to carry on for 24 years is amazing. It’s nice to be recognized, but I don’t think anyone in our group does it for recognition. People want to be part of a group that helps supply services to the town and community they feel are needed in the area.”
While the focus of Taber Charity Auction when it came into being nearly a quarter century ago was STARS Air Ambulance, it has since branched off to many services that aid the community. Name a good cause in Taber, and Taber Charity Auction has probably helped out at some point with funding.
“When we first did start giving all the money to STARS, we had a fire chief come and say to us that what we were doing was great. But, without us, STARS is not as good as they are. If you support the — at that time — Taber Ambulance Service, it’s that first hour that’s in their hands and then STARS takes over. Once we started supporting that as well, the auction really took off,” said French. “Then we had people who supported us asking us how much money were we going to send out of town. We sat down with some of the people who had donated quite generously over a few years. They felt $50,000 should go to STARS, with the rest staying in town.”
Breakfast programs at schools, the Taber Food Bank, Safe Haven kids camps, TCAPS, fire departments, Taber Handi Bus — the organizations and initiatives have been many that have felt Taber Charity Auction influence.
“That’s one of the things that bothers me is if the Taber Charity Auction goes away. I’m sure STARS will still be there, but what about the kids summer camp at Safe Haven? What about the breakfast program if the government bows out? Some years they are in, some years they are out. The food bank had a matching funds thing at Christmas,” said French. “Taber Charity Auction helps stretch dollars. We try and circulate as much money as we can around town to help services. We also help other functions around town as well.”
Taber Charity Auction has donated over $800,000 over 24 years to STARS Air Ambulance. There has been another $1 million circulated around town to local causes/services in Taber.
“We live in about as good of a community as you can live in when it comes to giving. If somebody needs something, somebody in this community will help out,” said French.
Taber Charity Auction will receive its award at the chamber’s Annual Dinner and Awards Night on Jan. 17 at the Heritage Inn, along with Saunders Insurance as Small Business of the Year and Bruce Warkentin as its Citizen of the Year.
“We thank the chamber of commerce for the award, but we really have to thank the residents of the Town of Taber in supporting us,” said French. “This is more a community award than a group award.”