In tough economy, raising money has gone to the birds

By: Tony Hazarian, Journal publisher
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When the going gets tough, fundraising for a cure gets creative. The annual Auburn Relay for Life is just 10 days away, and teams of businesses and individuals are in the home stretch to raise thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society. Whether your preference is pink flamingos, pepperoni pizza or pepping up your paint job with a car wash, you can probably find a local fundraiser that makes you feel good about your donation. And that’s especially important when cash is tight and people are being selective about the charities and causes they give to, said Peggy Christensen. “We just thought it’s hard enough to ask for money right now,” said Christensen, a member of “Shifting Into Overdrive for a Cure,” a Relay team sponsored by JR’s Transmission of Auburn. “We thought we’d do something fun, maybe a little whimsical, and this is what we came up with,” she said. What the team came up with was a flock of plastic pink flamingos — two flocks to be exact — that they set free over the Auburn community in June. The flocks land at local homes and businesses, and the recipient receives instructions on how to care for them and, more importantly, how to pass them on. “A friend of yours has paid us to place these pink flamingos in your yard. This flocking is done in good spirits and not meant to be mean,” the letter reads. “These flamingos will roost … until you call us to remove them or have them placed in a yard of your choosing. All we ask is a donation to our cause,” it reads. “Of course, the removal of these flamingos will be done at no charge, so please don’t hurt our feathered friends.” Most people have been “good natured” about receiving the birds, Christensen said, with the exception of one recipient who tossed a flock into a ditch and another who kept the birds locked in her car trunk for a week because she wasn’t sure what to do with them. Most donations average about $50, Christensen said, and the team has raised about $1,500 so far. “The more we can move them, the more we can raise,” she said. Albie Longueria knows about things that move. His restored 1965 Chevrolet pickup has been part of the family for more than 40 years, and the truck was the inspiration for this Saturday’s “Cruising for Health” Car Show at the Mel’s Drive-In restaurant on Highway 49 in North Auburn. For the last few weeks, Longueria and his wife, Janet, have been promoting the show, seeking classic car enthusiasts who want to show off their rides for a great cause. Proceeds from the $35 entry fee will benefit the Auburn Relay, which will take over the Gold Country Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 21-22. “We’re doing what we love, and we’re trying to raise some money at the same time,” he said. “Sooner or later, everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.” The car show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and Longueria said there’s still room for interested car owners. Give him a call at 887-8030 and he’ll get you in the lineup. If your hunger drives you, visit Old Town Pizza in Old Town Auburn today, where owner Reese Browning and his crew will donate 15 percent of the day’s receipts to Relay, as they did on designated days in June and July. And if your car needs a bath, consider bringing it to the Auburn Journal building on High Street this Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., yours truly and the rest of the “Relaying the News for a Cure” team will have mitts, brushes and towels in hand, ready to wash your car for a donation. For more information on the event or to make an online donation, visit the Relay for Life web site at, and find the Auburn Relay through the search page. Better yet, get creative.