‘The phantom of the pawpurra is there’

NINA WILLIS | Evergreen reporter

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Adoptable pets, auctions, musical performances, and a catered buffet make up the latest Fur Ball and Yappy Hour fundraiser in Whitman County.

Hosted by the Whitman County Humane Society (WCHS), the 10th annual Fur Ball strives to raise money for the organization and showcase adoptable pets at the shelter.

Jan Luft, board member and co-chair of the Fur Ball, first got involved in the WCHS through a friend who decided to take a break and suggested she join the board in her place. She also works as the Animal Care Facilities Manager for the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

What started as a spaghetti dinner fundraiser blossomed into a full-fledged event ten years ago, after board members decided to expand their main fundraiser, Luft said. Fur Balls typically earn 20 percent of the yearly funds needed to run the shelter.

Following the example of another humane society that used a similar theme for its fundraisers, this year’s theme is titled “Phantom of the Pawpurra,” inspired by the classic Broadway show “Phantom of the Opera.” Usually, the Fur Ball committee gets together and brainstorms ideas for yearly themes, Luft said.

Previous years included a hippie theme and 1950s theme, and many attendees dressed up for the occasions, Luft said, adding that part of the fun is seeing what people wear to the ball. If they choose to, guests are invited to dress up according to the theme of the ball.

Keeping with the theme, musical selections “Think of Me” and “All I Ask of You” from the show will play at the event, performed by soprano Jill Freuden, baritone Tom Preston and pianist Jill Schneider.

The auctions feature donations from the community, including items such as “Phantom of the Opera” tickets, a Fender Stratocaster guitar, two painted ponies and masquerade quilts, 24-hour rentals of two electric pedal assist bikes, a Samsung TV and a Craftsman-made cabinet. A couple pendants, monthly flower arrangements for a year, a sailboat cruise and a Salmon River experience are also among the auction items.

During the Yappy Hour portion of the event, Shelter Medicine Club volunteers will walk around with five adoptable dogs, introducing them to attendees. Three cats, three kittens, a few rats and a bunny will stay in the live auction room, where guests can interact with them.

Daniel Sosa, Vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha, manages all of the fraternity’s philanthropy ventures and community service events. Lambda Chi Alpha has volunteered at the Fur Ball for about five years.

Approximately 60 to 80 members of the fraternity will participate in running the Fur Ball, Sosa said. They will assist in set-up, supply transport, run the auctions, assist check-in/check-out and run the bar. Most volunteers stay the entire time, from set-up to clean-up.

“It really shows how the Greek life leads in community service hours compared to any other organization on campus,” Sosa said.

The “Phantom of the Pawpurra” Fur Ball is sold out.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Sosa said, “and love the fact that many people come in to this exciting event.”