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Finn News: Great experiences and friendships grow out of fundraisers

Every month of the year brings fundraisers sponsored by some group, and it seems a lot of the fundraisers happen in the fall and early winter up to Christmas. You can buy raffle tickets for prizes, goodies from bake sales, and candy or popcorn from school kids; you can attend music and theater performances and ice sculpture contests; you can shop for special items at rummage sales and holiday bazaars; you can eat your way through pie socials and fundraising dinners; and you can kick up your heels at dances and all kinds of special celebrations. The list of fundraisers is endless, whether they are annual or special, one-time, or held-as-needed events. No matter what they are, all of them are chances to get together for fun, friends and family time!

While most groups collect dues or fees of some sort from their members, they usually still need to hold fundraisers to help keep the lights on, pay their bills, send kids to sports games or camp, or beef up their scholarship funds. Besides filling financial needs, fundraisers also help to draw group members, as well as their family and friends, to work together on united, enthusiastic efforts as well as to bring enjoyable events to the general public.

During the last month or so, we attended several enjoyable wonderful fundraising events, each giving us different experiences and different friends to talk to. I want to acknowledge several of these local fundraisers.

I send a "hats off cheer" to the men and women who worked at the Sept. 17 Sampo Beach Association's Annual Mojakka Day fundraiser in Saginaw. The mojakka, breads and desserts were wonderful, as usual, and "hit the spot" on the cool but beautiful fall day. Besides full stomachs, we went home with loads of memories of laughs and hugs and conversations shared.

A big "shout out," also, to the Ladies of Kaleva Vâinôttâren Tupa #24 in Cloquet. These ladies have Sisu! With their determination and hard work, they made delicious pannukakku (Finnish oven pancakes) for their annual scholarship fundraiser Oct. 10. Again, we again went home full stomachs, smiles and happy memories.

Many "kiitos" (thanks) to the Knights and Ladies of Kaleva Pohjolaisen Maja #25 and Soinnuttaren Tupa #32, Virginia, for the fantastic music they sponsored at Kaleva Hall Oct. 15. A fundraiser benefit for Kaleva Hall, the "Remember When" program, presented by Pat and Donna Surface and the Boundary Water Boys, brought some of our favorite songs of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. It was a wonderful evening and, again, we left with smiles and wonderful music echoing through our minds.

Like many fundraisers, these brought much needed funds for the group and unique experiences for the public. And they all couldn't have been conducted without their group members' time and energy and commitment. The next time you see a fundraiser that interests you, go and attend! The next time your group holds a fundraiser, go and help out! The support you give, whether as a member or attendee, will be invaluable, and the benefits you get will outweigh your time and energy and expenses.

If you are looking for some exciting fundraisers and other events (besides regular meetings) to attend in the next month or so, here are a few that you can check out.

Tickets are on sale starting Nov. 1 for the 36th Annual Pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) and Itsenäisyyspäivä (Finnish Anniversary) Celebration sponsored by the Minnesota Finnish-American Historical Society (MFAHS). This year's event will be held Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Holiday Inn, 200 W. First St., Duluth, starting at 12:45 p.m. A very delicious Finnish buffet dinner will be followed by a wonderful program presented by the esteemed musician Eli Bissonett and the Järvenpää Singers. Tickets will only be available until Nov. 27 from Elaine (218-525-4435) or Arlene ( Prices are $18 for adults and $10 for children under 10 years of age. Seating is eight people per table, and if you want to sit with friends or family, it helps to order your tickets at the same time. We always have a wonderful time at this annual celebration and fundraiser, and we encourage you to join us! But get your tickets soon as they sell out fast!

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Finnish Americans and Friends (FAF) in the Hibbing area will host another extremely talented local Finnish-American artist, wood burner Karen Spotts. She will discuss and demonstrate her wood-burning techniques and will also have some of her work available for show and for sale. Christmas is coming and this is a chance to find a couple of unique gifts! The program and meeting will be held at the Hibbing Tourist and Senior Center, 1202 E. Howard St., starting at 2 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend, and coffee and goodies will be served.  

The Ladies of Kaleva Soinnuttaren Tupa #32, of Virginia, will hold their annual Holiday Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Kaleva Hall, 125 Third St. N., Virginia. At this wonderful fundraiser, you will find baked goods and candy, handcrafted gifts and lastu crafts, white elephant sale items and Remembering Äiti cookbooks. Come and discover some unique Christmas gifts or the special something that you've always wanted for yourself! Buy a raffle ticket (or six of them!) for some great prizes, too! Don't forget to relax and visit with friends over coffee and goodies (from 9-11 a.m.) and lunch (starting at 11 a.m.). Plan to stop by and stay awhile. The ladies will be excited to see you!

In Ely, the Ladies of Kaleva Vellamon Tupa #4 will hold their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22, along with a visit to the Ely-Winton Historical Society Museum to see, among other things, the new sauna exhibit. If you are interested in learning more about this group or would like to attend one of their meetings or events, contact Sally at 218-365-3928.

Besides the MFAHS event, there is another Pikkujoulu open to the public. The Hibbing FAF group will celebrate its Christmas Pikkujoulu dinner and program on Saturday, Dec. 3, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Crown Ballroom and Restaurant, 214 E. Howard St., Hibbing. The program will feature the Mark Muster Singers, and everyone is invited to come and enjoy a great meal and program!

I encourage you to get out, get active and get involved in your local Finnish (and other) events and activities. And that includes the fundraisers. Every group needs money and help to support their activities. And while it may cost a few bucks to go, the experiences and friendships are well worth the investment!