“Standing room only.”
That’s manager Dale Belvedere’s description of the scene at the annual SORCO Raptor Recovery Centre open house last Sunday.
Attendance during the course of the five hours was estimated in excess of 2,000 and in total, the centre is expected to realize about $27,000 in donations.
“Once the gates opened at 10 (a.m.) you couldn’t even walk anywhere on the property,” said Belvedere. “It was just crazy, but we’re good.”
One particular item in the donation box particularly caught her attention. An envelope, simply addressed to the centre, with some “very unusual contents” that translated into nearly $3,000 in cash.
“We would just like to thank this anonymous donor for this incredible gift and want the person to know how much this means for the work that we do,” said Belvedere, who would not say what the items in the envelope were. “In my mind whoever did it, did it that way so they wouldn’t be identified, like a name on a cheque would identify someone.”
That was not the only large offering found in the box at the end of the day, there were also two $1,000 cheques and several others for $500 in total adding up to about $16,000 in total.
This year, there was a record number of gift baskets, 211, up for auction, bringing in another $10,000.
This money comes on the heels of a $5,000 donation SORCO received as part of the Steve Rodgers fundraising concert held in Summerland a few weeks ago.
Music icon Paul Rodgers and his wife Cynthia Kereluk Rodgers also dropped off a $3,000 cheque Sunday to the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C. which has a captive-breeding facility on the SORCO grounds, although the organizations are not otherwise affiliated.
Under government regulations, SORCO is allowed only allowed to open to the public once a year. This event is a substantial portion of the funds needed to operate the facility, which cares for hundreds of sick and injured raptors annually.