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Teddy Bear Tea benefit raises funds for scholarships

Walla Walla-Columbia School Retirees Association has another successful Teddy Bear Tea under its collective belt, with 396 guests enjoying the repast on March 9 at LOCATION.

Altogether 547 tickets at $6 each were sold, raising $3,282. Proceeds from the annual benefit will fund two $2,000 college scholarships for students majoring in the education field, said WWCSRA member Dee Aichele in a release.

Sales of $1 raffle tickets for handmade bears mean that Sally Wells won "Grandpa, made by Marian Ray, and Betty Gradwohl won "Harley, made by Jackie Ormsby Harley.

The Bid it to Win it table generated more proceeds from  items donated by WWCSRA members, local stores and restaurants, the Seattle Seahawks and  Walla Walla Sweets. These tickets were six for $5 or $1 apiece.

Dee served as event committee coordinator, assisted by Claudia Ford and Dee Aichele,  displays; Linda Thorne, kitchen manager; Diane Briggs, Madre De.;  Gail See and Sue DeRuwe, photo area monitors; Joan Helm and Mary Jo Geidl, store managers; Shirley Rodenberg, coordinator, andJudy Gylling, story corner; Pam Conover, Patti Grant, Beverly Ziska, Beth Flanagan and Judy Gylling, Bid it to Win it; Ellen Wolf,  Teddy Bear Tea tickets and sales and tickets at the event with Jeannie Ruecker; Dee Aichele, Gail Callahan, poster committee; Claudia Ford, raffle tickets; and Barbara Doherty and Rose Kinney, raffle tickets at the door; and Allen Kopf, sign committee for delivery and retrieval in the community, transportation of bears, store items, kitchen serving ware and paraphernalia. And many volunteers helped with set up, take down and delivery tasks.

Organizers are relieved the event could be held before the restrictions for group gatherings went into effect in response to the coronavirus. "We are also thankful for everyone that helped make this event a success," Dee said.

Dee said a variety of popular features sold the tickets, such as the tea itself.

A new flower-decorated arch graced the dining area. Little bloom-filled vases and small bear centerpieces brightened tables clad in white tablecloths. Colorful little chocolate bears made by Kay and Bill Miller greeted guests on glass serving plates. Tea and fresh fruit preceded various little sandwiches, cookies and chocolates.

Displays included Carl and Eileen Depping's  big bear with a computer;  porcelain dolls; a miniature teddy bear picnic with tiny tea sets, artificial food and small transportation vehicles; Lori Deeringhoff Wahl's hand-crocheted bears, blankets, outfits and afghan with various animals crocheted on them; and  Raggedy Ann and Andy were most admired on another display table.

A sale table offered bears made by Washington State Penitentiary inmates and a rainbow of crocheted bears in various sizes. The perennial crowd favorite Teddy Bear Store drew record high sales from donated bears in assorted sizes and related items.

Many children made the story corner  a must-stop to hear good stories related by members. Close by, the coloring table with pictures of Raggedy Ann and Andy and various other fun bear pictures awaited participants.

From the new Bid It to Win It table Olivia Long won a doll buggy with bears and dolls; Nano Gunther won an art box full of fun things to work on; Ashlynn Brooks won a Mod Pizza basket; Paula Nichols won Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls and a book and a Baker Boyer Coffee and Bright's Candies-themed gift basket; Clara Cruz won a baby doll in a cradle; Patti Grant won a Walla Walla Sweets baseball-themed gift basket; and Kay Miller won a Seahawks-themed gift basket.

Deb Clark won a hand-painted bear picture made by member Kris Takemura in the silent auction.  That section was a real winner with record ticket sales.

The photo area where people were able to take their own photos with their cell phones was fun with balloons, one of a bear and variety of props for pictures.

The tea serving area was augmented by a display of antiques featuring an old chest, bears with old hats seated on little old chairs with umbrellas, tea pots, tea cups and saucers.

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or 526-8313.

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,