Kelley Finch couldn't believe the amount of donations she received for the Mari Close Benefit Auction.

"People were calling me left and right," Finch said. " More items arrived as the auction was going on. Manger Ministries of Portland saw the article n the newspaper on Mari and donated a 1984 Dodge convertible."

Finch, with the help of Mari Close's family, friends and the community, raised $16,000 from auction items. Another $5,000 was raised from raffles, the matching donation challenge by Jim Hollandsworth of Desert Springs Estates and concessions at the event.

"I figured with fair night and last minute vacations I would have felt comfortable with 50 people showing up," Finch said. "I thought if we could raise a thousand dollars or two it would be great."

The auction had 102 registered bidders and more than 150 people in all. People stayed until 11 p.m., Finch said.

"This was not me," Finch said. "It was the community saying we love them."

Finch had a team of volunteers. Anne Marie Kunkle, Close's aunt showed up at 2 p.m. and did the main part of the auction, Finch said. Close's friends Lexi Kennedy and Angie Sabuco volunteered their time at the main desk.

"Anne Marie kept the auction items in order, she was an absolute doll," Finch added.

There were volunteers in the kitchen, main desk helpers, and auctioneers, Paul Kramer and Gary Grieb, donated their time to help make the event a huge success.

Close was involved in an ATV accident on June 4 and remains in a coma at the home of her grandparents, Vern and Francine Evans, in Irrigon. She is the daughter of Greg and Kate Close of Irrigon.


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