Most events have changed in format this year because of COVID-19, and the same is true for Bone Appetit, a fundraiser that helps defray the costs of Helping Hands Humane Society while celebrating the human-animal connection.

Grace Clinton, director of business development and special events at Helping Hands Humane Society, answered questions about this year’s event.

Could you share Bone Appetit’s history along with its purpose and goals?

Since 2001, Bone Appétit has been our annual dinner and gala fundraiser to help the homeless animals in the Shawnee County community and the greater area of northeast Kansas. This essential fundraiser helps our organization care for over 6,000 animals who come through HHHS’s doors each year, and allows us to celebrate the human-animal bond with our supporters. These funds are vital to continuing our lifesaving mission.

When does this year’s event take place? How has COVID-19 changed this year’s event?

This year will be a bit different than in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions. It is most prudent to host this event virtually. While this decision was not an easy one to come to and we feel the loss of not getting to see everyone in person, we believe that community and public safety are pivotal elements in the work that we do here, and we needed to consider what would be the most prudent for our staff, volunteers and supporters. Our pets need their humans to remain well.

Additionally, COVID-19 has affected our operations tremendously. While we are very grateful for the outpouring of support from our community this year, it’s been a tough year for everyone and non-profits are no exception. We need fundraisers like this each year, even without a pandemic, but this year has proven to be particularly challenging.

The live, silent and wine auctions are some of the highlights of Bone Appétit. The auction will be hosted on a digital platform that you can access and bid from your computer, tablet or phone. Registration for this is free and the link is on our website.

During the livestream, which will take place from 7-8 p.m., you’ll hear about the progress being made to make Topeka a more humane city, as well as meet some adoptable pets and hear updates on some of the wonderful animals that your support has helped us save.

Finally, if you’d like to recreate the fun table atmosphere of our in-person gala, order a five or 10-person party pack, including a catered LaRocca’s Italian meal delivered by HHHS volunteers, a bottle of wine, and event swag bags for your guests. Register and buy your party packs on our website.

What is the admission fee? What will this fee cover?

The admission free for this year’s event is free. Anyone can watch the event on our Facebook or YouTube channels (we recommend YouTube as it allows clearer streaming), and can bid on the silent auction for free. If individuals are interested in receiving a commemorative event bag of goodies as an attendee, they will also receive a meal ticket from Culvers of Topeka, and these packages are only $15. These are optional, of course, because anyone is welcome and encouraged to access the livestream and silent auction.

If people would like to purchase a watch party for five, this is $250, and watch parties for 10 are $480. Watch parties include wine, a catered meal and commemorative event bags of goodies for attending guests. We are very excited about this year’s colorful canvas Hill’s Pet Nutrition bags. These packages will be delivered to the location of the watch party by HHHS volunteers as long as the location is within Shawnee County Arrangements can certainly be made for alternative pickup plans, if outside of range, if needed. We do ask that reservations be made by Oct. 12, and people can contact me directly for questions at [email protected]

Thanks to generous sponsorships, 100% of the proceeds from this event will go back to help the animals here at Helping Hands Humane Society. This will cover the housing it takes to keep them safe and warm and dry. It will cover their medical care, sterilizations, vaccinations, heartworm testing and so much more. It will provide us necessary funds to help animals in need.

We are also hopeful our community will donate during this event, even if they choose to just watch this year. Donations can be made either by phone, our website or through our silent auction program to assist us in operating during some of the colder months.

I know the features include several auctions — what are some items consigned to date?

We are so enthused and encouraged by the turnout of local businesses who have donated to this event. There will be something for everyone, we are certain. Some of the things of particular unique intrigue are featured on the “premier category” portion of our silent auction website. Some of these include:

• A new high-efficiency gas furnace, with warranty, provided by BlueDot

• A meal for up to six provided by chef Luis of Luis’ Place, donated by TopCity LocalFlavorista Facebook page operator Alison Beebe, with wine accompaniment provided by Prairie Fire Winery (donated in honor of pups Lily, Ada Honey and Brix)

• Golf package provided by Topeka Country Club, valued at $500

• Play and Stay package from Prairie Band Casino and Resort

We are also excited as a shelter to offer to the winning bidders:

• A day with our in-house veterinarian

• Bid to have your pet be our 2021 Paws in the Park Spokesdog

• Bid to have your pet’s sweet face be on our 2021 Tails on the Trail T-shirts

Help make your beloved fur-child be a local celebrity.

Are there any local or national celebrities helping out this year?

Yes. We are so excited that WIBW’s Melissa Brunner is emceeing this event. Additionally, we have an autographed flag from Topeka’s very own Gary Woodland in our auction, as well as an autographed package from animal lover and country singer celebrity Miranda Lambert. During the livestream, watchers will hear a special message from Scott Poore, one of Kansas City’s beloved animal advocates, as well as KTWU’s own belle, Betty Lou Pardue!

How much money are you hoping to raise this year? What will this money be used for?

Our annual goal for this event is around $100,000. We are hopeful, perhaps optimistically so, to be able to raise this level of funds again this year, despite the virtual modification. We are so grateful for Topeka’s turnout for our fundraisers and continued support of the animals, and we remain hopeful to end this year on a similar chord.

The money will be used to help us continue providing the best level of care to the animals here in our shelter. It currently costs about $4,400 a day to operate Helping Hands Humane Society. With thousands of animals coming to us each year, the cost to care for them is staggering but unavoidable. With your support, we are able to provide pets with the second best home they’ll ever have. Donating at this event will help our medical center spay and neuter pets, provide lifesaving care and keep the pets healthy. Your support will also assist us in community outreach and education ventures. Please join us at Bone Appetit or give a gift that will surely help save a life. These animals deserve the best until they find their forever home with their family, and we can continue providing it to them with your support.

How can one purchase tickets to Bone Appetit or become a sponsor?

Definitely check the event website. We have the links to register on there, as well as the sponsorship forms. However, I always love hearing from people and would be happy to help walk interested parties through the process. Just give me a call at 785-233-7325 or email me at [email protected]

Where can one find more information about this event or the shelter?

To find out more about our work, check out www.hhhstopeka.org, and our event website is www.hhhstopeka.org/events/bone-appetit.

We also encourage people to follow our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hhhstopeka. This is where we put our most up-to-date information, and with how quickly things can change this year, it will be great to follow. We promise it’s also full of delightful and adorable animal posts regularly to break up your news feed and add snuggly pets to your daily scrolling.

Our event Facebook page is https://fb.me/e/3ofN2BuJ5.

Who are some of this year’s sponsors to date?

We are so excited and grateful to share our sponsors. They deserve so much recognition for their love and support of animals and our community: Hills, Evergy, Kansas Gas Service, Family Pet Hospital, Animal Clinic of North Topeka, Homestead of Topeka, KBS Constructors, Security Benefit, Smuckers, Jamie Hornbaker State Farm, WIBW, Country 106.9, Elliott Insurance Group, Patterson Legal Group, ProActive Capital Management, FHLBank Topeka, LaRocca’s, Culvers and more.

Anything else you would like to add?

We are also gearing up for our annual 5K, Tails on the Trail. We are proud to announce our 12th annual Tails on the Trail event — Topeka’s favorite dog-friendly 5K run, 1-mile walk and family event. This is a fundraiser for Helping Hands Humane Society in Topeka and 100% of your registration fee goes directly to Helping Hands. Due to COVID-19, this year’s Tails on the Trail will be taking place virtually. Kickoff is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, on our Facebook page. Participants have one week to submit their race times. Deadline to submit their time is 7 p.m. Nov. 14. Bond with your pets or family by enjoying your favorite trail around Topeka or your surrounding areas. Shawnee County Parks and Recreation has some wonderful trails to access.

We are encouraging participants to walk by yourself, with your family, with your pets — rain or shine, this event is a great opportunity for you and your family (fur included) to get out and enjoy a brisk run, walk or just enjoy the crisp autumn air together. Picking the time you want to complete this over a week-long event means that you can participate at the schedule and temperature that works best for you. Your support goes a long way and this event helps raise awareness for all of the great animals that are waiting for their forever home.

This year’s 2020 T-shirts are in cool royal blue. Shirts this year will be limited, so we encourage people to register by Nov. 1 to guarantee your shirt.

Event site is www.hhhstopeka.org/events/tails-on-the-trail.

Same as with Bone Appetit, folks can contact me directly with questions.

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