By VICKI L. GERDES
Detroit Lakes Newspapers
The United Way is getting ready for a party -- and if you're a resident of Becker County, you're invited.
The United Way Community Celebration is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion -- and as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the United Way nationally, the Becker County chapter is hoping to make the local event a memorable one.
"We will have displays from our 40-plus United Way partner programs on all the services offered in Becker County, so people will be able to see exactly what the United Way does," said LuAnn Porter, executive director of the United Way of Becker County.
In addition, they will be collecting donations for a School Supply Drive that will benefit three public schools based in Becker County -- Detroit Lakes, Frazee-Vergas and Lake Park-Audubon.
"Kids always have supplies to start school, but as the year progresses, those supplies are used up," Porter explained.
This drive -- new to the community celebration this year -- will help keep students supplied with the basics such as pens, pencils, paper tablets, crayons, rulers, colored pencils, erasers, scissors, markers, backpacks, etc. Once collected, the supplies will be divided fairly between the districts and distributed.
In addition, there will also be inflatable games in the city park, a free meal featuring hot turkey sandwiches inside the Pavilion, and live entertainment including local musicians Tim Eggebraaten and John Hutchinson, Center Stage Dance and North Star Cloggers. Alyssa Mayfield, Junior Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen, will be the emcee for the event.
Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon will also be distributing free bicycle helmets to the first 30 kids attending the celebration, and there will be "lots and lots of door prizes," Porter sad.
In addition, there will be a prize drawing for two free bicycles at the end of the celebration -- and yes, you must be present to win.
"The bikes must be claimed and taken home that evening," Porter explained.
And in honor of Ramona Arnold, who died of cancer earlier this summer, there will be handmade pi?atas with prizes for the kids inside.
"Ramona started that last year, and it went over so well that we decided to do it again," Porter said.
In addition, there will be clowns giving away balloons for the kids, and free blood pressure checks for the adults.
Porter hopes the celebration will persuade those attending to give generously to the United Way.
"We know the economy is tight and that affects people on many levels, but there's more need than ever," Porter said.
For more information about the United Way of Becker County, or the Community Celebration, please contact LuAnn Porter at 218-846-7400.