Auction-goers wasted no time getting to Illinois Valley Animal Rescue’s annual fundraiser on Saturday. Minutes after the event began, rows of people perused the tables of silent auction items.
Last year’s event raised nearly $50,000 for the organization, according to committee member Heidi Milner. If the amount of items donated was any indication, this year’s auction was a huge success. Milner said there was a record amount of donations for the live auction. Area businesses, organizations and individuals contributed gift certificates and baskets of items for the silent auction as well.
“Once again, we’re just astonished by the generosity of the Illinois Valley,” Milner said.
Volunteer Brian Smith said he has one dog adopted from IVAR, but has fostered 10 dogs in the last 12 years.
“It’s hard for me to see a dog put in a kennel,” he said.
By fostering the animals, his family is able to vouch for them to potential adopting families. They get to know the animal’s personality and whether or not it is good around children or other pets.
Stasia Phillips of La Salle recently started volunteering at IVAR.
“We were brought up with dogs all our lives,” Phillips said. “They said they needed volunteers and we were right there to help out.”
Phillips said she and some of her co-workers are working on getting enough hours in so their employer will make a donation as well.
Her niece, eight-year-old Ana-Kate Phillips of Dixon, attended the auction as well and had her picture taken with Lincoln, the IVAR “ambassa-dog.” Ana-Kate has a bulldog, a shih tzu, and a cat named Sal. She even wrote a paper for school about how she wants to be a veterinary technician.
“I love animals,” she said. “They always snuggle with me.”
Volunteer Jennifer Seidel said she has had to cut back on the amount of time she spends at IVAR’s shelter.
“We’re up to eight (dogs) right now,” she said, adding that her Labradors spend most of their time indoors.
According to IVAR president Chris Ellberg, there are about 40 dogs and 125 cats and kittens at the shelter.
“They do wonderful work,” Seidel said. “I’m just glad that they keep doing what they’re doing.”
Amy Flanery can be reached at (815) 220-6975 or firstname.lastname@example.org.