The conference room was bustling with noise and patrons Tuesday night as community members surveyed the available silent auction items at the Alabama Sheriff’s Girls Ranch hosted by the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn/Opelika.
The Alabama Sheriff’s Girls Ranch is a ranch near Auburn that takes in abused, abandoned and neglected girls. The ranch currently houses 18 girls between the ages of 6 and 18, said Jimmy Harmon, director of the Girls Ranch.
Along one wall of the conference room US Foods, which is restaurants such as O’Charley’s and Outback, donated a selection of foods for attendees to snack on. While a cash bar was stationed alongside another wall with beer from Adams Beverages and Premium Beverage Co.
A photo booth greeted attendees as they entered the conference room. While the items donated for the silent auction were placed on a table in the center of the room.
“We haven’t had to spend much money on anything,” said Carrie Sasser, event coordinator for the Hilton Garden Inn. “So all the money is going to the Girls Ranch.”
Sasser is a member of the Auburn Hilton Garden Inn’s Brighthearted Committee, a team dedicated to community outreach, environmental impact and employee appreciation.
Auburn’s Hilton Garden Inn is managed by LBA Hospitality. Sasser said LBA asks the hotel to hold a quarterly community outreach event. This quarter the Brighthearted Committee reached out to the Alabama Sheriff’s Girls Ranch and offered to hold the fundraiser for the organization.
“It’s pretty special to have people reach out to us and us not have to go and solicit them,” Harmon said.
The primary purpose for the fundraiser was to supplement the ranch’s food budget, Harmon said.
The ranch is a part of a federal feeding plan, but that plan only provides approximately $60 per month per child. That averages out to $2 a day per girl for meals, Harmon said.
“We really have to do things like this to supplement that food money,” Harmon said.
Harmon believes the event was a testament to the ranch’s work and the Auburn and Opelika community.
“Community involvement is the key,” Harmon said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of communities, and I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a community that is this strong in trying to reach out and help those in need.”