Auction hits a home run: Forks fan in Texas donates autographed baseballs to fundraiser

FORKS — A Plano, Texas, woman may have hit a home run for the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction scheduled in Forks today and Sunday.

Lori Norvell-Troutman donated three autographed baseballs — by Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose and Yogi Berra — to the auction, which gives Forks High School graduates scholarships to institutions of higher learning for up to four years.

The auction, which collected more than $60,000 in 2009, will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Bank of America community room, 481 S. Forks Ave.

The autographed baseballs, which have certificates of authenticity, will be individually auctioned off.

Norvell-Troutman has never set foot in Forks.

She learned about the town through the four best-selling vampire novels of the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, all of which are set in Forks.

Norvell-Troutman recently read the Twilight series just to see what all the fuss was about.

She then researched Forks to see what the setting of the book was really like.

Now she’s a fan — of the setting, if not the books.

“Looking through the pictures on the Forks Chamber Web site, I was amazed at just how incredibly beautiful it is there,” the 46-year-old woman said.

“I liked the books, but I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard fan by any means.

“But they introduced me to Forks.”

During her browsing of Forks sites, she found a notice about the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Norvell-Troutman said. “No one around here does anything like that.

“I hope the kids there and the community realize how lucky they are to live in a place where everyone comes together to do that.”

So she phoned Forks Chamber of Commerce Office Manager Mike Gurling.

Then she packed up the baseballs and shipped them to Forks.

“At first, we weren’t sure it was true,” said Marcia Bingham, chamber executive director.

“But then, they arrived and here they are.”

Bingham said the gift of the baseballs is just another example of the generosity that is shown annually to the auction.

It also illustrates the benefits of being in the limelight.

“Twilight keeps bringing us more and more,” she said.

“This is really an unbelievable story that someone could read about a place in the books, never visit, but because of the books love Forks so much to donate to our auction.”

Norvell-Troutman and Bingham have become friends, and the Texas woman plans to visit Forks this summer.

In addition to her donation, Norvell-Troutman has her eye on a couple items at the auction.

“Those jewelry boxes that OCC [Olympic Corrections Center] donated are really beautiful,” she said. “I just might put a bid on them.”

In the past, Bingham has served as the head of the scholarship auction, but this year Jerry Leppell took over to help with logistics.

“We always have so much wonderful stuff that comes in,” Leppell said. “And every year this town amazes me.

“Pies will go for $60 bucks a pop — but they are some really good pies. I think my kids might even come home from college just to buy some of those.”

Other donations include a host of wood products from OCC.

Murial Huggins has donated another intricately woven Native American basket from her collection.

The longtime Forks resident has donated baskets to the auction in the past.

Her donation this year is a coiled, lidded Eskimo grass basket from the Kuskokwim area near Bethel, Alaska.

Huggins bought it in October 1983 and estimates it is worth about $6,000.

“These are skilled craftswomen who live in the villages between the Kuskokwim and Yukon river mouths,” Huggins said in a prepared statement.

“The basket is in triple-A condition and has a dyed-grasses design.”

Donations of items to sell can be dropped off at the Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, 1411 S. Forks Ave., at the Bank of America and with members of the senior class.

Last-minute donations are welcome, Leppell said.

A smokehouse was added to the auction early this week and will be set up and operating outside the auction to demonstrate how it works.

“There is truly something for everyone,” Leppell said.

“This town never ceases to amaze me.”

To see items, see http://tinyurl.com/yd8gybp.

To place a bid during the auction, phone 360-374-2262, 360-374-2264 or 360-374-2267.

Fundraising food sales by class of 2010 parents are also featured.

Funds go toward the Senior Safe Night party on graduation night in June.

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Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at [email protected]

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