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REACH Center’s Snowflakes & Diamonds virtual gala continues through Sunday

The REACH Center’s virtual Snowflakes & Diamonds Gala will continue through Sunday, offering all who participate a chance to pick up items while funding the local nonprofit. 

The gala is an annual fundraiser for the REACH Center, a nonprofit organization that supports youth with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. The in-person gala was canceled this year due to Covid-19, but executive director Krissy Crites said she wasn’t about to let the center go without it. 

Businesses and individuals from all over the Red River Valley have donated items for online auctions. Those who intend to bid must register at auctria.com/auction/rrvdssvirtualgala

The online silent auction opened at 5 p.m. Thursday and closes at 9 a.m. Sunday. Although winners may pick up items at the REACH Center from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday or during normal business hours the following week, most items can be shipped. If an item can be mailed in a standard envelope with one stamp, the center will cover the cost. Winners will pay shipping costs for larger items.

A Facebook Livestream on the REACH Center’s page is planned for 6 p.m. Saturday for the live auction with auctioneer Montee Moore. DeadCat Media and Joe Kyle from Varner will help with filming.

The virtual gala is all the more important for the center this year because Crites and her team were unable to host their large annual fundraiser, the REACH Rally, because of Covid-19. The rally usually involves asking local businesses for pledges and it takes place in October, but Crites said she felt it was too early to ask the business community for donations then, as many were still finding their footing after reopening.

“We opted to not ask for donations for that REACH Rally. So we’re really counting on the public this year,” Crites said in late December. “We’re hoping that by doing everything virtually like we are, and going to Facebook and the social media platforms, Instagram and those types of things, that it’ll also give others the opportunity to support organizations that don’t typically attend the gala because they can sit in the comfort of their home and still bid on some of these items.”

The money raised from the gala will go toward the center’s after-school program, which is currently serving 27 individuals. Crites said four more will be joining the program in January and the need is so great that she’s had to start a waiting list. She said it’s a good problem to have — that so many people are reaching out for the center’s help, but that she needs extra funding in order to bring more staff on board to help out with increasing numbers.

The auction will offer everything from a basket of gift cards to downtown restaurants, to a handmade toolbox to jewelry and Vera Bradley designer bags. Everything up for auction was donated by local businesses and Crites said she’s thankful for everyone who has showed up to support the center. While times may be tough for nonprofits and businesses alike, Crites said she has faith that the generosity of Lamar County residents will extend to the REACH Center, like it always has in the past.

“We’re hoping that the community pulls through and I believe that they will. I believe in this community. They’ve pulled through so many times before,” Crites said.

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