Q&A: Debbie Donahoo, Publicist for the Ladies of Charity Wild West Roundup

Debbie Donahoo is the publicist for the June 22 Ladies of Charity Wild West Roundup, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to LOC's emergency assistance program for Knoxville and surrounding areas.

Whose idea was the rodeo?

LOC has two major fund-raisers every year: a golf tournament in May and a dinner and auction event a little later. Instead of the same sit-down dinner format, a few of us decided to try a more interactive fund-raiser—more relaxed attire, something different. So, a Wild West Roundup was born. It is back a second time by popular, foot-stomping demand! Last year everyone danced, I mean everyone, except one priest and his 100-year-old mother. It was so fun.

Are you a square dancer?

I have been to several square dances called by our Steve Kopman, the international square dance caller who will be at the event. He puts out the official call to begin and rounds people up out of their seats into "circles" of eight dancers each. Before you know it, you've learned to promenade, do-si-do, swing your partner and much more—and look really semi-professional. Steve is an easy-going, funny instructor and the whole room is in motion! But getting back to "Am I a square dancer?" Only for fun and great laughs. I am always eager to learn more when the dancing part is suddenly called to a halt.

Any great auction items?

Before we dance, we bid. The silent auction includes wines, dinners, art work, services, and even a practical and well-equipped "home safety" bucket of items! Auctioneer David Pozy of Pozy Auctions will lead the live auction for trips, a cabin in the mountains, a skybox for 20 at the Smokies ballpark, dinner groups, choice wines, golf outings, antiques, and more.

Do people dress the part?

The key is to be comfortable and casual. But jeans, boots, even a Stetson, are mighty fine!

How will the funds raised help?

The whole purpose is to help fund the Emergency Assistance Program at LOC. For over 70 years in Knoxville and the surrounding area, we have addressed the immediate—that is, emergency needs of the under-served, unemployed, and underemployed. We provided over 55,000 free services last year, a 24 percent increase over the previous year, and 42 percent of those served were children. We provide food, clothing, help with medical prescriptions, utilities, rent, newborn layette kits, infant and toddler formula, food and diapers, heating fuel, personal care and hygiene items, and start-up kits for housing or apartments. We offer these every weekday. Eighty percent of our budgeted program disbursements are for food.

How many do you help?

The program assists more than 25,000 people, some multiple times. And keep in mind, the costs for helping our clients increased close to 18 percent over this past year.

Is there a way to help if you can't make it to the event?

You can help with food cards. For an example, $30 will feed a family of four for three days. Canned goods, size four or five diapers, personal care and hygiene items are some donation ideas, too. Volunteers are always welcome in the Thrift Shop or in the warehouse sorting donations, or the Emergency Assistance Program as a receptionist, a food packer, food pickup, or pantry stocker. There is always something to do.

The Roundup is 6 p.m. June 22 at St. John Neumann School, 625 St. John Court, and tickets are $75. Make reservations by June 17 with Carolyn Susano 584-1480.