Biggest Turkey fundraising coming down to the wire

The candidates are Dawn Vyette Witt, representing Homeward Bound Pets, where she serves as executive director of the adoption shelter and thrift shop; Jeff Yates, a 911 dispatcher, representing the See Ya Later Foundation; Dr. Derek Rains, an orthopedic surgeon, representing the Willamette Valley Cancer Foundation; and Sandy Haw, representing Henderson House, where she works as a family advocate and shelter manager.

Money raised in the contest will be split among the four charitable organizations.

Witt volunteered to represent the no-kill, no-cage adoption program because she wants to raise money for the animals. In addition, she wants to increase awareness of Homeward Bound pets, which runs solely on donations of funds, pet food, laundry detergent and other supplies.

“I want people to feel free to have a conversation about Homeward Bound Pets at any time and to make them feel they can be part of Homeward Bound Pets in any capacity,” she said. “We are all after the same thing, to end homelessness for dogs and cats.”

Yates said he hopes to use his run for Biggest Turkey to spread the word about See Ya Later programs, such as Seeds of Hope, Scotty’s Playhouse, sports camps and scholarships. 

He volunteered after experiencing first hand the work of Seeds of Hope, which helps families with medical needs by providing groceries, gifts, respite activities and other support. When his eldest daughter, Allison, was going through a medical crisis, his entire family was “adopted” by Seeds of Hope. Allison died in 2010, but Yates, his wife Amy and younger daughter, Keala, still appreciate the program’s support.

Yates also volunteers at Scotty’s Playhouse. He is active in the Nazarene Church on the Hill and the Great Hunt 4 God.

Rains said he volunteered to be a turkey candidate because he is “a strong believer in giving back to his community and this is a great way to get involved and support others.” He also wants to raise funds and bring exposure to the cancer foundation, which serves local patients and their families.

He came to McMinnville in 2012 to work at Willamette Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. A graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, he also is team physician for McMinnville High School and Linfield College athletes and director and physician volunteer for a free sports medicine clinic on Saturday mornings.

Haw wants to raise funds for and awareness of Henderson House, which she said “takes a stand against all forms of violence and oppression while providing services and support for victims of domestic and sexual violence,” she said.

She has been a family advocate at Henderson House for 13 years. She also is manager of the shelter, where victims of abuse and their children spend time while making the transition from abusive situations to living on their own.

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