Volunteers with Rochester Friends and Neighbors are still selling tickets for the Oct. 11 raffle of a 2003 Ford F-150. The South Thurston County group conducts the annual raffle to raise funds for community members going through traumatic events. 

Because of the pandemic, the organization had to cancel their spring fundraiser, where they usually host 300 to 400 people and sell a significant amount of tickets. Community event cancellations also impacted their ability to sell tickets. According to Board Member Brian Fagernes, the raffle usually raises anywhere from $18,000 to $25,000, which all goes directly back to the community.

“The board members, all six of us, used to be involved in a lot of nation-wide fundraising,” Fagernes said. “But we realized that there were folks in our own neighborhood that couldn’t afford the basic life essentials to survive a traumatic event.”

Rochester Friends and Neighbors has given funds to individuals who lost everything in house fires, and has covered transportation costs for cancer patients traveling to other states for treatment. In general, Fagernes said the organization can cover food, medication or transportation.

The organization has stayed extremely local, and was inspired by the fundraising spaghetti feeds that board members used to attend with their grandparents. Back then, the events were held in reaction to any traumatic event in the community. The idea now is to be proactive, Fagernes said. 

Volunteers will be selling $5 tickets on the street around town, but people can also go to rochesterfan.com to arrange to buy and pick up tickets.

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