Fundraiser for Ayres held

Kimm Schick, owner of the Hummingbird Hills Winery in Charleston, helps cash out customers at the annual Ayres Memorial Animal Shelter fundraiser on Saturday at the winery. The winery will donate a dollar of every bottle sold at the fundraiser to the shelter. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

CHARLESTON — Bob Fredericks of Stone Arabia and other men on Saturday were hauling donated food, litter and other pet goods destined for the Ayres Memorial Animal Shelter of Sprakers.

Kimm Schick, co-owner of the winery, was kept busy by the brisk sale of wines during the Ayres fundraiser. She pledged a dollar of each bottle sold to the shelter.

The public was buying raffle tickets and enjoying a free chow line of hotdogs and pasta and potato salads, run by James Hems of Root, on a warm, but breezy day. Dark clouds gradually gave way to sunshine.

“This is the biggest turnout yet” for the fourth annual event, she said.

Marissa Christman, the shelter’s assistant manager, agreed.

“Every year it’s gotten a little bit better,” she said.

Schick estimates Ayres has garnered more than $1,500 from the fundraiser—not counting the donated goods, and she believes word of mouth and social media had a lot to do with it. Both the winery and the causes it supports have benefited from greater public awareness, she said.

“We come up here just to show our support,” said Jo-ann Douglas of Canjoharie. “We love animals, and we love the winery.”

Laurie Bargstedt of Tribes Hill said, “I have adopted two dogs in the past from Ayres, and I love the work they do. They have great volunteers and staff.”

Currently Ayres has 32 dogs and 35 cats in its shelter.

Melissa and Chris Witkowski of Scotia and their son, Max, came out for the event. Melissa volunteers at Ayres, and Chris brought out a dog named Giorgio from the shelter with an Adopt Me collar on it.

Both Schick and her sister, Jennifer Hems, have a personal involvement with Ayres since both have adopted dogs there.

By Patricia Older

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