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Library fundraising hits $1 million
Gala planned to raise money for furniture and equipment
Lindsay Sauvageau, Leominster Champion, February 9, 2007

Fundraising for the renovation of the city's library - including the main stairway - has passed $1 million.

As the Leominster library expansion project nears its completion, support of the project has brought in $1 million in donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals. Now a new committee hopes to increase that total to help furnish and equip the newly renovated building.

A 150th Anniversary Gala Auction Committee has been formed to help organize an event which will feature both a silent and live auction, a 50/50 raffle, musical entertainment and food. Tickets for the event will cost $25 for admittance, hors de oeuvres, live entertainment from the Leominster High School Jazz band, a cash bar and a chance to win a plethora of items from vacation getaways to autographed novels through an auction hosted by auctioneer Dave Rodgers.

Set to take place Saturday, March 24 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in City Hall's Tata Auditorium, the event hopes to raise enough money to help purchase the furniture, fixtures and equipment which will be included in the new library.

Work at the Leominster library is expected to be completed this spring.

"We sat down and thought what can we do, what sort of an event would make sense before the library opens, and we thought we'd like to do something really special and a lot of fun for everyone," said committee chair Sue Chalifoux.

"We decided to hold it at City Hall so that it would be open and accessible to everyone and for a reasonable amount of money we wanted people to be able to come in and feel like they really are enjoying a night of elegance while still being able to participate, which is why we included a live and silent auction," said Jeanne Zephir.

Chalifoux says the committee has only just begun asking for auction donations but has so far received a great response.

"The response has been very favorable and a lot of it has come in to us by way of word of mouth. People heard what we were doing and wanted to help," she said.

So far items up for grabs in these auctions include vacation homes, a season pass to all Leominster High home sporting events, a slew of pink flamingo lawn ornaments, an American Girl doll with handmade clothing, a tour of Fenway Park with box seats for a game, gift certificates, a tour of Boston package which includes a trolley tour, a visit to the Top of the Hub and dinner at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, sports signatures including Curt Shilling's, jewelry, a foursome golf package to The International, artwork and all kinds of literature signed by their authors, including "Wicked" signed by Gregory Maguire.

The committee is currently looking for more donations, however, and according to committee member Ruth McCarty, every little bit helps.

"Everybody remembers the library, remembers going there as a kid. It was a special trip, like a gift to be able to go and look through all the books because you didn't have much then and the library had everything you needed," McCarty said. "It still is wonderful, and wonderful for families."

The gala's theme will be "Books are just the beginning," and McCarty says specially made floral arrangements will be set at all dining tables which reflect that theme.

"We've asked florists to donate baskets of flowers that reflect our theme, so we will have baskets which are made to reflect different book genre's like cookbooks, travel books, children's books, mysteries," McCarty said. "At the end of the night we're going to raffle them off."

The committee is also looking for sponsors and volunteers for the evening. All sponsors will be given a certain amount of free advertisement for their donations from having their names listed in the program book to having their names added to the donor recognition plaque in the "leadership" category in the new library.

"And we'll take volunteers for anything," said Chalifoux. "Anyone who wants to help set up or clean up or decorate, just contact any of us or the library. We'll take all the help we can get."

Tickets for the gala event are available at the Leominster Public Library, located at its temporary location at the Crossroads Office Park, 690 Mechanic St., the Mayor's Office and through any committee member. The committee includes Donna Balletta, Sue Chalifoux Zephir, Kim DiGeronimo, Sheila Eydenberg, Martha Faulkner, Meredith Foley, Nancy Hicks, Suzanne Koehler, Denise Labenski, Ruth McCarty, Carol Millette, Nona Ojala, Susan Shelton, Suzanne St.Cyr and Jeanne Zephir with help from Beth Dupuis who is leading the decoration subcommittee.

For more information on how to become a sponsor, how to donate or how to help, visit www.leominsterlibrary.org or call (978) 534-7522.



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