By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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As of Thursday afternoon, donations for the scholarship fund reached $93,300 — topping the old record by $15,300.
“We not only smashed the old record; we blew it out of the park,” said Jerry Leppell, scholarship committee chairman.
By the end of the auction Sunday night, the main event had earned about $89,000 — far above the $78,000 record amount raised for students in 2001 and definitely exceeding the 2013 amount of $65,556.
Post-auction donations have exceeded annual fundraising expectations even further, Leppell said.
“This community is pretty gracious. Nothing surprises me anymore,” he said.
Leppell said there are still a few people who have contacted him regarding donations but haven’t yet completed the process.
“Most of these [donors] are the backbone of the community,” Leppell said, adding that most are from the local area.
Leppell declined to identify the donors, citing a preference by the residents, businesspeople and graduates to remain anonymous.
The community’s largesse in donating and purchasing items this year will help fund scholarships for a very large Forks High School Class of 2014 — 88 seniors set to graduate in June.
Donations for the auction were equally generous, including a car, fishing trips, dozens of homemade pies, fruit baskets and birdhouses, art and wood- and metalwork made by inmates at the Olympic Correction Center.
Money from the annual auction funds grants to Forks High graduating seniors and graduates to pay for college costs, vocational school fees or tools for graduates heading off to work.
The amount they get depends on how much money is available in the scholarship fund, Leppell said.
Any Forks High graduate is eligible for a scholarship twice in his or her life, based on financial need, grades and participation in past auctions.
Typically, the first scholarship for each student is about $1,200, he said.
In the first 49 years of the auction, more than $1 million has been raised for Forks alumni to continue their vocational or higher education goals.
Teachers serve as auctioneers, and the auction is overseen by community leaders — most of them Forks High graduates and many past scholarship recipients.
This year, there were 25 volunteers at the auction, Leppell said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.