WAUSEON - Planning sessions are under way for the 2005 Black Swamp Benefit Bazaar that will be held near here in June.
Funds raised during the event at the Fulton County Fairgrounds will go toward relief efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in southern Asia, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Sunshine Children's Home.
During the last three years, the benefit bazaar has raised more than $450,000 for global relief efforts of the Mennonite Central Committee and for the Sunshine Children's Home based near Maumee. The committee is the relief and development arm of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches.
Sunshine, a Mennonite-affiliated nonprofit agency serving people with developmental disabilities and their families in northwest Ohio, is slated to receive half of the proceeds this year, the same as in other years, said Douglas Siebenaler, Sunshine's director of development. Last year Sunshine received $84,000 in proceeds from the benefit.
Funds are used for Sunshine's spiritual life programs; family support and respite programs, and furnishings for living areas in group homes and in the Children's Home near Maumee. Some dollars are targeted for individual needs of residents. Sunshine might earmark some benefit proceeds this year for capital need projects, Mr. Siebenaler said, such as to improve the parking lot at the Children's Home.
Additional dollars are needed to expand Sunshine's popular animal therapy program, such as to offer a therapeutic horseback riding program. At a barn at the Children's Home, residents can help feed and groom llamas, goats, rabbits, and miniature donkeys.
Sunshine's group homes in Archbold, Pettisville, and Wauseon house a total of 16 residents. Sunshine also provides supportive living services through the Fulton County board of developmental disabilities. There are 12 group homes in Lucas County and one in Allen County operated by Sunshine.
The bazaar, slated this year for June 17-18, is managed by a volunteer board and sponsored by area churches and individual donors, and it features an auction of handcrafted quilts, including some made by quilters in Fulton County. The board, which held its first planning session this week, is discussing the possibility of adding a youth event aimed at teens and college-age students, Mr. Siebenaler said.