By Christi Baron
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At its inception, the QVSA was known as the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Fund.
It began with a group of Forks residents looking for a way to help Forks High School graduates achieve higher educational goals.
The organizers believed that due to the remoteness of the community, the cost of college or trade school was not always within reach for many Forks families.
So, a group of local entrepreneurs and educators wanted to find a way to help, and in a way give back for the success and achievements they had experienced living in the West End.
In February 1964, the first meeting of the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Fund Corp. and various contract logging operators was held at the Vagabond cafe to begin the drive among local industries for scholarship funds.
Robert Rosmond, chairman for industrial contacts, conducted the meeting.
It was decided that any young person with “promise and need” would get a scholarship; the immediate goal was $1,000.
The kickoff dinner was at the Russ Thomas home.
In 1966, a “Forks-style banquet” was held at the Congregational Church featuring steelhead, elk, Swedish meatballs and Swiss steak.
Admission was by donation at the door.
But by this time, the organization had raised a total of $6,300 and awarded 39 scholarships.
In 1968, the Scholarship fund got a boost.
Radio station owner Gordon Otos held an impromptu auction on the local radio station, KVAC, selling off co-owner Bruce Elliott’s birthday gifts on the air.
As the gifts ran out, locals started donating more items and more people started bidding.
It went on for several days, and the only reason they stopped was because they got tired.
Over the years, the dinners were phased out and the radio format took over.
By 1980, the event had outgrown the radio station, and Northwestern National Bank offered up its lobby as a place to hold the auction and still broadcast it live over the radio.
Eventually, the event outgrew Northwestern Bank and was moved to the Bank of America building.
In 1987, Olympic Corrections Center inmates began creating items for the auction.
Over the years those items have generated thousands of
dollars to the fund.
In the mid 1990s, the local cable company put the event on the local advertising Channel 19.
The annual, two-day event began taking in $20,000, then $30,000, then in 1998 set a new record: $58,000 in just two days.
In 2008, the auction took in more than $71,000, and a basket donated by Muriel Huggins brought in $3,100.
After many successful years in the Bank of America building, the event was moved in 2012 to the Forks High School commons.
The 50th Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction is this coming Saturday and Sunday at Forks High School (and via 1490 AM, 96.7 FM and www.searchforks.com/qvsa), with the Senior Parents providing concessions for hungry bidders and the proceeds going to “Senior Safe Night.”
Since its inception, the QVSA has raised more than $1 million to assist Forks grads with scholarships.
Thanks go to original board members Robert Rosmond, Harvey King, Russ Thomas, Larry Wagg, A. Nordman, Mrs. Herman Waters and Mrs. George Thompson.
QVSA chairman Jerry Leppell is hoping that another record can be broken this year.
“It is a big graduating class this year, 88 seniors,” Leppell said.
“It would be great if every one of them could get a scholarship.
“It’s the 50th year. I would really like to break the record.”
For quite a few years, the auction has not had the benefit of the local cable channel, though there have been attempts at establishing online viewing.
This year, a live YouTube channel is in the works, but many like the live action.
Coordinators and seniors will be visiting local businesses to request donations of any kind. All donations are IRS tax-deductible.
Items can be dropped off at the high School, First Federal in Forks, or a coordinator or student can be contacted for pick up.
For more information, call Brett Pederson, 360-640-0293.
See you at the auction!
Christi Baron is a longtime West End resident and Forks High School alumna who is editor of the weekly Forks Forum newspaper. Phone her at 360-374-2244. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.