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Pet rescue benefit is an honor

By Jennifer Nixon

This article was published April 3, 2014 at 2:58 a.m.

It started off as something simple - a fundraiser for an animal rescue organization. But due to medical crisis, and a great deal of generosity and a lot of creative people, it snowballed.

As Ashley Polk-Sutherlin of Stephano’s Fine Art Gallery explains, the gallery was already planning to do a fundraiser for Out of the Woods Animal Rescue, one of the nonprofit organizations the gallery regularly supports.

Out of the Woods helps people who rescue and provide foster homes for homeless animals, particularly in rural areas. The organization directs people to low cost sterilization services, helps independent rescuers with the financial burdens of rescuing dogs and cats and encourages adoptions. It operates solely on donations.

“It’s all grassroots,” Polk-Sutherlin says. “They serve animals that are outside the city limits. No one takes a paycheck. They don’t have a headquarters. They don’t have a presence.”

While planning for the forthcoming fundraiser was underway, organization founder Kathy Woods was diagnosed with cancer and the party became something more.

“We want to do something to honor Kathy while she still feels good, where she can attend,” Polk-Sutherlin says. “She’s done so much for the community. She’s the person behind the scenes, rescuing animals all the time.”

The planned party has become Tail Waggin’ & Tailgating, 2-5 p.m. Sunday, an afternoon of food, drinks, music and pet adoptions to get attention and money for Out of the Woods and give Woods herself the salute she deserves. And people have been coming from out of the woodwork to help.

“It’s really heartwarming that there are so many people who don’t know Kathy that are wanting to give,” Polk-Sutherlin says. “It’s incredible to see the good side of people.”

Admission to the party is free. So are the wine and beer and the barbecue cooked on-site by the folks from Cross-Eyed Pig. Eight musicians, including Trey Johnson, are lined up by Cosmic Cowboy Studios to entertain the crowds and Renee Shapiro of KATV, Channel 7 will serve as emcee.

Money will be raised from a live auction and a raffle, both of which are packed with donated items and gift packages including a weekend in Eureka Springs and another at Mountain Harbor Resort on Lake Ouachita. The raffle baskets will include a “guy basket” loaded with items from Bass Pro Shops, bourbon and Maui Jim sunglasses. All proceeds will benefit Out of the Woods.

“We want to raise as much money for the organization as possible,” Polk-Sutherlin says. “I think that would make Kathy happy.”

To remind people the reason why they’re there, Out of the Woods representatives will be there with adoptable animals people will be able to meet.

Donations of dog or cat food or pet supplies are welcome. Polk-Sutherlin points out that Out of the Woods donates whatever it can’t use to other rescue organizations, so there’s no such thing as too much.

It’s all very casual and, since “It’s going to be clean fun,” it is a child-safe gathering.

The whole affair will take place in the gallery’s parking lot so if there’s a downpour, it will have to be canceled or postponed. Otherwise, people should be ready for a casual afternoon of fellowship, food and furry friends.

“It’s going to be a fun time,” Polk-Sutherlin says. “It’s a celebration of life.”

Stephano’s Fine Art Gallery is located at 1813 N. Grant St. in Little Rock. Call (501) 539-3998.

Weekend, Pages 33 on 04/03/2014

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