The Great Famine-Genocide in Soviet Ukraine (Holodomor)

Handmade quilts that brought as much as $2,500

Nebraska Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) was born in 1920 in response to hunger and related human need brought on by war and revolution in Russia and the Ukraine


By Laurie Pfeifer & Steve Swazo
Aurora, Nebraska, April 10, 2003

"Sell what you have and give to those in need."

Following the same motto they have for the past 23 years, Mennonites from across Nebraska donated quilts, crafts, art, antiques and food products, then turned right around and bid on them during the 24th annual Nebraska MCC Relief Sale in Aurora this weekend.

When the auctioneers gavel hit for the final time, the MCC committee had totaled up $135,000 for world relief -- some of which will be earmarked for relief kits, school kits and cash funds that will go to Iraq.

From the sale of the ceremonial loaf of bread that opened the craft auction at 8 a.m. Saturday, bringing in $65, to the handmade quilts that brought as much as $2,500, the bids were generous and the bidding often spirited.

For 24 years now, hundreds of visitors have made their way to Aurora to attend the Nebraska Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Craft and Quilt Auction.

It was no different this year for the event which began Friday night with a soup and pie supper and ended Saturday afternoon after raising more than $135,000.

According to MCC treasurer Lelan Thieszen, what a difference 12 hours can make.

"I thought the auction went very well," Thieszen said. "There was active bidding throughout the day. What a difference 12 hours make as the Lord was looking out for us."

Thieszen was referring to the spring snow storm that dumped more than six inches of snow in the area on Sunday afternoon.

The Friday night auction brought in a total of $3,666, including proceeds from a soup and pie supper.

A homemade bug box -- a small mailbox shaped box with a wood frame and screen cover -- brought $40. A few minutes later, an identical bug box brought $75.

An MCC coffee mug, complete with free refills, brought $12.50.

A vice grip man brought $230, a tool box donated by Men's Brotherhood from the Beatrice Mennonite Church sold for $130.

A detailed barn with stalls, a fence and horses from the craft auction sold for more than $1,000.

Among the other craft items that were auctioned off were a Quaker-style rocking chair, a stained glass window, some oak shelves and some Amish-made furniture, other wood crafts, handpainted miniature tea sets, MCC caps, artwork, antique toys.

But it was at the premier event, the quilt auction, where applause broke as bidding broke the $1,000 mark several times and the $2,000 mark at least three times. Quilt #39, "Country Love" in burgundy and greens, was donated by Beatrice Mennonite and First Mennonite of Beatrice and sold for $2,025 Quilt #51, "Angel Rose" was appliqued and quilted by the Amish and donated by Elva Janzen of Bethesda Mennonite in Henderson. The 98x108 inch quilt sold for $2,500.

The total amount raised from quilt sales was $34,908 while the craft auction brought in an estimated $40,745.

The children's auction that was held Saturday afternoon raised a total of $1,726 and the total raised from concessions raised more than $48,000.

Bidders and spectators had their fill of food during the two-day event. Mennonite organizations manned the food booths selling funnel cakes, cinnamon rolls and New Years Cookies inside the Farr Exhibit Hall.

While women were kept busy mixing the batter of eggs, milk, flour, yeast, baking powder and raisins, the men were deep fat frying the round balls of batter in oil before they were glazed or sugared and sold.

They made 75 batches of 50 New Year Cookies -- a fritter-like food item that was selling nearly as fast as they could be made.

Outside the Ag Auditorium, charcoal was being used to cook thick Windsor loins and chicken breasts.

Inside the 4-H Building it was verenika, plumamoss, cole slaw and ham cream gravy that was being prepared.

Henderson residents Lenora Goertzen and Adeline Huebert, now in their eighth year as chairpersons of the verenika meal, said 5,000 of the dough bundles filled with cottage cheese were made last week and then frozen.

"We cook and serve about 3,000 and the rest are packaged and sold frozen," Huebert explained. "A package of two dozen will bring $35 or $40 so that's where we make the most money," she added.

Along with the verenika, they serve plumamoss -- a fruit soup with raisins and prunes.

The two women enlisted the help of 35 women to make the verenika Monday and another 35-40 people volunteered to help in the kitchen and on the serving line Saturday.

MCC was born in 1920 in response to hunger and related human need brought on by war and revolution in Russia and the Ukraine.

Mennonite members from more than 11 states were in attendance for the two-day event.

"This year we had people from Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Florida attend the auction" Thieszen said. "We also had someone give us a New York phone number so they could bid on some items."

Today, MCC has more than 900 personnel serving two and three year assignments in 50 countries, including volunteers and staff in North America. MCC's work includes providing material aid such as wheat, beans, clothing and medical supplies to meet emergency needs, as well as agricultural development and water conservation projects to improve life in local communities and overseas.

Aurora News Register, Aurora, Nebraska, April 19, 2003
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