Westfair’s Italian buffet feeds more than appetites

  • Shelly and Steve Godfrey stand with their daughter, Stephanie, beside the dollhouse that the Godfrey family created together.
  • Darrell Moore (right) served as the volunteer auctioneer for Westfair’s event. Beside him is Becky Bigelow-Williams. This shot was taken near the moment when local optometrist Jason McDowell made the winning bid for a “mystery package” in the live auction, then went on to donate the package back to sell again.  In response, Moore said, “You’ve got a big heart. Thank you very much.”
  • At the front door of the dollhouse, Emma Ford (age 7), peeks inside to see the details and treasures within.
  • Detail of an upstairs room in the dollhouse created and donated by the Godfrey family for auction. The bedcover, curtains, pillowcases and blanket in this room were all handmade by Beth Godfrey. A Bible is placed on the blanket at the foot of the bed.
  • Nine-year-old Savannah Ford is all smiles and excitement as she walks up to the handmade dollhouse for which her father had the winning auction bid.

By Kyla Hurt

Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto. – Eat well, laugh often, love much.

Westfair Christian Academy recently held their 15th annual Italian buffet and auctions fundraiser. In the spirit of eating well, laughing often and loving much, this event is organized with selfless volunteerism – from Fonda Jockisch’s hours and dedication put toward preparing the Italian meal along with the help of other volunteers, to the monetary and otherwise sponsors noted on paper bubbles filling up the wall space around the gym. Imagine over 1,200 meals going in to bellies or out as to go orders in the three-hour window of serving on that sunny Sunday.

Table after table of seating filled the gym, which was then surrounded by tables of auction items generously donated from area businesses or handmade with special attention. Many details of the day were especially noteworthy or from the heart. One table was dedicated to the late Beverly Green, a devoted educator with the academy since 1980; Miss Green passed in February, leading her students to sponsor a table dedicated to her. “That was really sweet,” commented Jenn Lacey, administrative assistant at Westfair Christian Academy (WCA). Lacey noted that the kids put chocolate (because Miss Green loved it) and sticks of gum (because Miss Green hated it) out on the table.

So, after the meal, but with a hint of garlic and Italian spices still floating in the air, the auctions began. Every single item was either donated or made. One hundred forty seven packages were available for bid, with 100 percent of the monies raised going to the school. Last year, the final number raised was near $24,000, thought Lacey. Within the items displayed was a lovely dollhouse – not just any dollhouse, though. Over the span of the year leading up to the auction, one family worked together to create it. The Godfrey family made the entire dollhouse by hand. The Godfreys that worked on this project included Starting from a kit, the rest of the dollhouse was created by Stephanie Godfrey, a first grader at WCA, along with her parents, Steve and Shelly Godfrey, and also her paternal grandmother, Barb Godfrey. Barb Godfrey joked that “we took over Steve’s area for a year,” meaning his workshop at the family business, Steve Godfrey Plumbing. “We thoroughly enjoyed putting it together,” she said, adding, “We thoroughly enjoyed putting it together. It was difficult to let go.” The family project had Steve Godfrey running the electrical in the dollhouse and Barb Godfrey saying how she cut out individual images of Tide, Bounce or peanut butter from advertising she’d find and glue them on wood so that there were products in the dollhouse home; she also created all the quilting herself for each of the bedcovers and more. Seven-year-old Stephanie Godfrey designed the upstairs little girl’s room, making sure to have a WCA pennant up on the wall. So many intimate touches can be found in the dollhouse, including the address on the façade; it’s #316 to give a shout out to John 3:16 in the Bible. A lot of love was put into this dollhouse. “We sat there and looked at if for a year … and then, we had to say goodbye,” said Barb Godfrey.

So, yes … it was a little sad to say goodbye to the dollhouse, but the gift of its donation to the auction is greater. Seeing the two sisters light up when their dad made the final winning bid on the dollhouse … that makes it worth it. Steve Ford (wife, Sarah) made the final bid, giving much excitement to daughters Savannah and Emma. The family attends the church and the girls are students at WCA. The girls said they have an older dollhouse at home, but are excited to play with this special dollhouse. Savannah and Emma Ford both mentioned that Mom has told them they “still have to share” when playing.

As the auction was ending, Principal Randy Cooper told how the event originated. There was a gentleman known as “Tony, the pizza man” and the idea was to sell pizzas as a fundraising event. “Tony” simply asked Cooper if he could come and cook him a pizza. Then, it was more pizzas … and all for a fundraiser. That was 15 years ago. Cooper says that the first year, Tony personally drove all the way down from Chicago (his home), his station wagon filled with pizzas baked in the wee hours of that morning. Cooper said that “Tony” came down for the 12th or 13th event and just “bawled” at how big the event had become and what good the now Italian buffet fundraiser was doing. “The Lord’s just blessed it,” said Cooper, “We didn’t know if it would work, but people like food and getting together.”

The funds will go all to Westfair as noted originally. Lacey explained that their numbers grew so much in the past year, that they needed another bus for the students. She said, too, that they hoped to have SMART boards in each of the classrooms.

Just think … this is all accomplished by the support and love of families of 124 students that attend Westfair Christian Academy.

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