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Vendors coming to Atrium Saturday for 'Back to School Bash' program


The first thing to know about this Saturday’s fundraising event for “Back to School Bash,” organizer Cole Horinek said jokingly, is that it is “not a kegger.”

Piñatas, however, are welcome, he and fellow organizer Kathleen Daniel added.

The vendor booth fair will be in the Atrium Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

If enough vendors sign up, the booths could fill all three floors of the Atrium, they said.

Horinek and Daniel said they are raising funds for “Back to School Bash,” a Salvation Army program done in combination with local churches that is growing quickly. The program donates backpacks, school supplies, shoes and even haircuts to students as a fresh start to the school year.

To raise money for the cause, Daniel and Horinek are asking booth vendors to donate one item to a raffle and to pay a $5 fee covering utilities expenses.

The ticket sales from raffle items will go directly to the Salvation Army program, as will portions of many booths’ profits. The Tupperware booth, for example, will donate 40 percent of its proceeds to Back to School Bash.

Horinek and Daniel waived the $5 booth fee for nonprofit organizations and will set out boxes for anyone who wants to bring donations.

Horinek’s idea for the event came out of a long history of community service efforts in Havre and a shared desire to find active solutions.

“I believe that there should be support for everyone, no matter what they’re going through,” Daniel said. “Our kids use the program, so we wanted to find some way to give back. If I use a program, I try to find a way to return something to it.”

The whole family pitches in, from the children working their own booths to their grandmother baking fundraising cookies. Both Horinek and Daniel are former Scouts whose own grandparents instilled in them the importance of community, they said.

The couple hopes to give others in Havre an outlet for the causes that matter to them, either by setting up a booth at this event or approaching them to fundraise for another organization.

“Everybody out there has something they care about,” Horinek said. “If someone comes to me and says, ‘Hey, why don’t you do an event for cancer?’ then I will ask, ‘OK, when do you want to do it?’”

The event is also intended to boost Havre’s businesses in the wake of several companies announcing closures, they said.

“If they are not shutting down completely because their whole mother company got shut down, they’re leaving to become online-only,” Daniel said.

Rather than complaining, however, Daniel said she realized she and Horinek could find a solution by “giving people an opportunity to give back.”

She added that the fundraising event is also about raising awareness and understanding and will include informational booths about topics like autism, search and rescue, and mental health awareness.

The couple said people can also keep an eye out for book donation boxes popping up in high-traffic areas around town this week for the Labor Day Book Drive.

Beginning Sunday through Aug. 25, Horinek and Daniel will collect donated books of any kind, school-appropriate or not. The couple will collect the books from the donation boxes or pick up bigger donations directly from people’s homes. The Atrium’s Book Exchange Emporium will trade those donations for teen-friendly books, which Horinek and Daniel will then donate to Havre High School.

The couple said they became motivated to donate books to its library after noticing its shrinking stock.

“Since when we went to school there it’s gotten so much smaller, book-wise, that we decided we wanted to do some sort of fundraiser for that,” Horinek said.

Part of their motivation is even closer to home; this fall, their daughter will become a freshman at Havre High.

“She’s an avid reader,” Daniel said. “We are very proud of her for taking on reading like the two of us and most of the rest of our family.”

She added, “We want to show people that books are there ... to expand your mind and to help you see the world in a different light.”

“Reading is magical, that’s all there is to it,” Horinek said, smiling.

Many students, he said, have lost the art of gleaning information from books rather than doing a cursory search online.

“It is an amazing escape that I think a lot of kids could benefit from,” Horinek said.


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