Fundraising for Wings: the Yaak doesn’t just wing it

By Stacy Walenter

A beautiful, sunny day on May 5 set the stage for generosity and giving at the annual Wings Benefit and Auction held at the Yaak River Tavern and Mercantile.
Approximately 150 to 200 people attended the festivities throughout the day. Volunteer Sandy Beder-Miller said it was standing-room only at the live auction.
While the desire to help friends and neighbors is undoubtedly the motivating factor behind the Wings Benefit’s success, the eclectic auction offerings from local artisans don’t hurt either.
Yaak residents and Lincoln County artists donate numerous pieces of their handiwork to the auction. This year, auction items included a hooped beaver pelt from Mountain Men’s Tom and Nancy Oar, a batik lap quilt from the Yaak Women’s Club, a coyote fur hat from Tom Stringfellow and Claire Walpole, a bench from Kerri and Bubba Fahland, pottery from Clint and Chris Oster, photography from Bob Hosea and Yvonne Resch, and a fly rod from Bill Elliot.
Beder-Miller said the bidding was furious for a piece of metal artwork from Todd Berget. There was also a framed photo by Randy Beacham of the Capitol Christmas Tree as it made its way out of the Yaak.
Colin Breen donated a wooden ant carving. In past auctions, he has also contributed unique artwork, such as a sculpture made from old silverware.
Kelly Moreford of Libby delighted the crowd with his auctioneering as he made his way through 69 total items.
While the big items consistently fetch a nice price, a lot of the fun at the event happens when items that seem small, such as a hanging basket of flowers or a pie, end up garnering large sums themselves.
It is perhaps here with these smaller items that the benevolence of the Yaak community is best showcased.
But it is shown in many other ways throughout the occasion. Yaak River Tavern owner Gwen Allen donated all of the food used for this year’s taco bar. The staff at the tavern also stayed after their shifts were over. They remained to volunteer their own time to help serve the dinner. “Everyone in the community steps up and knows how important this is,” Beder-Miller said.
A total of $33,080 was made through the event’s Cinco de Mayo dinner, bucket raffles, silent auction, live auction, and three different raffles offering two guns, a chainsaw, or a guided river trip from Linehan Outfitting Company.
All of the money goes directly to people in Lincoln and Flathead counties who need financial assistance while receiving cancer treatments.
The Yaak’s fundraising efforts will continue on Sept. 15 when the annual Wings Walk will take place. Walkers can cover almost 30 miles on Yaak River Road to raise funds for Wings. Anyone interested in more information about the walk can contact Roberta DeNeau at