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SAFFT fundraiser deemed a success
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Jaymi Renae, left, paints Abby Neal’s face during the Spring for Hope fundraiser. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Ladies, gentlemen and children gathered in their Easter finery to raise money for Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together, or SAFFT.

The organization held its second Spring for Hope fundraiser at Windermere Golf Club on Saturday.

Ashley Anderson, founder and executive director of SAFFT, said the event “did really well.”

“We had about 75 to 100 people, the kids had a blast, and all the families had a good time,” she said.

The fundraiser, which invited ladies to wear “big hats” and gentlemen to sport “bow ties,” featured brunch and several children’s activities. Among them: an Easter egg hunt; face painting; photos with live rabbits; and games of cornhole and bocce ball.

Chris Starkey also spoke briefly about the experiences he and his wife, Gelou, have had over the past four years as foster parents to six different children.

“We’ve learned so many things about ourselves,” he said. “We have two children of our own, and we’ve been so proud of them in taking on the role of being siblings to other children.”

Starkey said the SAFFT family visitation center, which provides foster children a place to visit with their biological families, has been helpful.

“It’s so nice to have a safe place to leave them during their visitations and have time to go get groceries or run errands,” he said.
Starkey noted that other SAFFT efforts, which include monthly events for adoptive and foster families, have provided valuable support.

“We all have bad days and it’s great to be able to turn to each other and then end up laughing about it,” he said. “It’s huge to have that support from people who are going through the same things.”

Anderson said monetary tallies from the day were still being calculated, but estimated that the event fell slightly short of its $10,000 goal.

“I don’t think we quite made our goal, but we got pretty close to it,” she said. “But it was still a great, great day.”

Abby Neal, 8, had fun getting her face painted to look like a puppy.

“My daddy invited me to come and my mom bought me a hat to wear today,” she said.

Father Alan Neal said they wanted to support a good cause while having some fun.

“SAFFT is a good community organization and we just wanted to support those efforts,” he said.