The Oakdale Friends of the NRA, National Rifle Association, held its annual fundraiser dinner and auction this past Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale. Although the attendance was down from years past, organizers expressed it was a success and the show of support was evident.
The center was abuzz with people mingling, playing games, examining the guns on display, and exploring the silent and live auction items. The fundraiser helps support the future of shooting sports and hunting.
The evening started with a welcome message, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a prayer. The tables had programs with the schedule of events, rules, the gun dealer which was Called2Arms in Modesto, the table package supporters, and the live auction items. There were waters available to all guests, a few appetizers, and a full bar. The dinner was catered by Mike’s Branding Iron BBQ that served up tri-tip, chicken, potatoes, green beans, rolls, and salad.
The Committee Officers for the event were Chairman Tim Benedix, Co-Chair Janelle Giuntoli, Treasurer Robin Giuntoli, and Secretary Jacqueline McGuire along with committee members.
Although sales started out slow they had about 200 people in attendance to this year’s event compared to 300 that they had in 2019.
“It went well,” said Benedix. “It was still a success. In spite of less attendance, we were pleased and had a good event. The volunteer committee, of which I am very proud, works extremely hard and deserves all of the credit along with the attendees/supporters without whom none of this would be possible.”
This is Benedix’s second year organizing the event in Oakdale that he expressed he enjoys working with the volunteer committee, interacting with the attendees, and raising funds to preserve the shooting sports.
He noted that “Funds raised by the 501c3 Friends of NRA Foundation are distributed through a grant program to organizations and activities which promote the shooting sports such as gun ranges, youth trap shooting teams, junior pheasant hunts, women’s shooting programs, and gun safety programs.”
There were an assortment of firearms raffled off and one lucky winner won a safe that had four guns in it. There were several games where guests could win raffle tickets and some that had surprises like an ice chest that had a firearm in it.
Once the silent auction was closed the winners were announced and the live auction began. Serving as auctioneer was Will Cockrell, well-known around the region; he also acted as emcee for the evening.
The first item in the live auction was a military appreciation item which was a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Sculpture. The item was purchased by a guest for $1,000 and then given to Mike Wagner, who was the oldest veteran in attendance. The crowd cheered and applauded as Wagner stepped up to receive the item.
There were several items in the live auction like metal art, a heated toilet seat, knives, bar stools, home décor, quilts, scopes, Red Ryder BB gun and a “We the People” guitar signed by Ted Nugent.
At the end of the night the event ended with several winners leaving the community center with smiles on their faces.