The El Dorado Charities Auxiliary presented several grants during a special presentation Thursday evening at the Coutts Museum of Art.

The El Dorado Charities Auxiliary presented several grants during a special presentation Thursday evening at the Coutts Museum of Art.

"We're so honored that we have the ability to grant funding to your organizations," said Amanda Waller, Charities president. "We have worked very hard and diligently to fundraise to make this evening possible.

"This ceremony really signifies and defines our mission at this organization. It really does give us great satisfaction to be able to work together as fellow community members to make a positive difference to the people of our community. Each and every person in this room is here because we have a passion for helping others. It's because of people like you we are able to make such a positive difference and potentially change lives."

Waller announced a total of 19 grants, offering each entity a chance to tell a little about what they do after receiving their checks.

The first recipient was 12 Baskets, which was received by Josh Humig.

"I just want to say thank you to the El Dorado Charities Auxiliary," Humig said. "This is a huge blessing. About five years ago we changed up our focus and really focused on helping with the needs of food in our community and those less fortunate. Since that time, we've gone from about 40 families a month to now we are seeing about 200 families a month."

With the grant, he said they were going to be able to buy more freezer space to hold more food.

The second grant went to AAUW, which was received by Jan Pipig.

"We work to help girls with education and equity," she said. "Our main fundraisers send middle school girls to the STEM camp in the summer at K-State. We have been doing this about 20 years now."

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. This next summer they will be sending eight girls.

The next grant went to the Arc of Butler.

"We assist people with developmental and intellectual related disabilities," said Nancy Olson, who is retiring as director.

She said they have a lot of programs, but there were two programs they wanted to be able to support better through this grant. One was the Benson tennis tournament, which has been held since the 1950s and they want to start a socialization program in El Dorado for their adults.

The next grant went to Birthline of El Dorado.

"Our office has been open for probably 30 years and it's because of beautiful people like you that we have never have had to go out and ask for money because God has always taken care of us through people like you. We thank you so much and we promise to do the best with it," said Theresa Fagg, Birthline director.

Next, a grant was presented to Coutts Memorial Museum of Art.

"On behalf of the Coutts Museum I want to welcome you all here," Director Rod Seel began. "Thank you to the Auxiliary. We will be using our funds for the summer camp we do every summer for kids age 8 to 14. We have a classroom across the alley that we do a three-day camp in the summer and this will help with supplies for that camp and scholarships for it."

Camp Quality Kansas also received a grant.

"We offer free programs to children with cancer," said Susie Mooney, with the organization. "We are an all-volunteer organization, so this money goes straight to the kids to be able to bring them to camp. We really appreciate it."

The next grant went to Employment First in Butler County.

"Thank you very much," said Dale Tower.

He said he group is made up of service providers for people with disabilities and community members.

"We promote the opportunity for employment for people with disabilities," he said, "and every year we host an event called disability mentoring day for people who might be interested in working with employers throughout Butler County."

Another grant went to Kids Need to Eat.

"We just thank you so much for helping us feed our kids here in El Dorado," said Barbara Day, vice president of Kids Need to Eat. "It's a six-week charity that we provide food daily to around 120 of our youth who come for meals every day and we also provide the weekend packs for two weeks – the first of August when school starts and first week of the summer school period. It's a large need in our city and our county."

The next grant was presented to Numana.

"We do have the community garden here in town where we are able to grow over 10,000 pounds of fresh produce that we then donate to those who are serving the needs of our community such as 12 Baskets and Kids Need to Eat," said Lindsay Mills, director.

Next, a grant was announced for Wheatland Fishing Has No Boundaries.

"Wheatland Fishing Has No Boundaries, the Kansas division of the national organization, is strictly volunteer," said Calvin Mabry. "It takes people with disabilities and they spend a weekend each year camping and fishing. We started here in Kansas about 14 years ago and I think that first year we had 25 to 30 participants and now we have grown, to where we had last year close to 350. We are the largest one in the United States. We couldn't do it without your help."

The next grant went to Partners In Education.

"Partners In Education was founded in 1989 by a group of community volunteers that I'm sure look familiar to the past members of this board," said Rod Blackburn, PIE treasurer. "Right now we're sitting at about $1.5 million in assets. Our mission is to assist the USD 490 with innovative school programs. This will go into the El Dorado Charities Endowed Fund and that money will go into a trust fund. We'll spend the earnings of it for grants to schools. This organization has grown from the generosity of organizations like El Dorado Charities and the wonderful philanthropy of El Dorado citizens."

The next grant went to the Family Life Center - SafeHouse.

"Our organization assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault," said Tiffany Herrmann, an advocate with the SafeHouse. "Part of our organization is the SafeHouse and in order to help victims we need to remain open 24-7 so this money will go to the shelter advocate's salary for the night shift."

Next was a grant for Sunlight Children's Advocacy and Rights Foundation.

"We serve Butler, Greenwood and Cowley counties for any child abuse case that comes in," said Mickey Yaghjian, Children's Advocacy Center child/family advocate. "This money is going to the upkeep of our saltwater fish tank. It is the first thing kids see when they enter the door and it helps provide a warm welcoming, child friendly environment."

The next grant went to Special Families.

"Special Families is an organization who serves children with special needs," said Kathy Donovan.

The money they received will go toward their sensory section of their programs.

"It's much more than that," she said. "It affects their learning."

Another grant went to Tri-County CASA.

"I would describe our program as ordinary citizens who do extraordinary work to help children in the court system," said Janet Jacobs, execute director. "CASA volunteers go to wherever the child is placed and meet with them on a regular basis."

She said they work to see if it is possible to get the child back into the family and look at what steps the parents are taking to improve their parenting skills.

The final grant was provided to the YMCA.

"The funds we raise for our campaign go back to the community for assistance and after school programs and our Splash Program," said Jessica Rall, branch director. "It the past year we were able to give back over $130,000 to our community, so the gifts and support we receive from the community is much appreciated."

Grants also were announced for Butler Adult Education, Butler Homeless Initiative and Dolly Parton Imagination Library, although no one was present for those.

In all, $25,015 was presented in grants.

The money raised comes from the El Dorado Charities annual gala event, although Weller said they are talking about adding a summer fundraiser to get their name out to more people.

"We are so honored we have the ability to work together with organizations to make a difference to our community," Weller concluded.