Wednesday, October 16, 2019
More than 160 attendees gave $38,600 during the sixth annual Power of the Purse event in Owatonna.

Power of the Purse hits new record

United Way of Steele County’s Women United held the sixth annual “Power of the Purse” event, which supports the cost of shipping books to children in Steele County enrolled in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

Thanks to the generosity of over 160 attendees, $38,600 was raised, exceeding the goal and setting a new record supporting this beloved local program, which encourages children’s literacy and enthusiasm for reading. More than 1,200 local children are mailed a book every month from their time of registration until their fifth birthday.

The theme this year was “If You Give a Child a Book” a play on the popular children’s book series that began with “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” Several of the series books were incorporated into cute and colorful centerpieces created by Hilary Pick and Beth Wall that were later included as part of the auction. With only 160 tickets available and a strong demand, the event sold out quickly this year.

Funds were raised through a purse themed Silent Auction, Live Auction, Ticket Sales, a Wall of Wine, a Purse Tree and Direct Sponsorships. All of the items for the auctions and wine were generously donated either by Women United members, local businesses or private donations.  Debbie Ensley Chaired the event, other members of the event committee included: Karen Duncan, Donna Ennis, Nancy Keller, Jean Larson, Karen Legault, Betsy Lindgren, Kerri Lynch, Elizabeth Malo, Jess McCoy, Cynthia Paley, Tanya Paley, Rachel Peterson, Hilary Pick, Kim Ramsey, Julie Rethemeier, Kim Schaufenbuel, Beth Wall and Christina Wetmore. 

Rethemeier and Schaufenbuel tag teamed as auctioneers, bringing a lot of energy, humor and excitement to the items. The lively ladies bidding on items this year were also quite entertaining.

Before the commencement of the auction, a heartwarming video of children joyfully running to their mailboxes to receive their book was shared by parent and creator Rachel Peterson.

Lori Holm a special education teacher at Washington Elementary spoke about the importance of reading to children and how it affects their development and future success.

Dolly Parton’s foundation pays for the over 14,449 books shipped to children enrolled here in Steele County. The required shipping cost to meet our local program demand and Power of the Purse goal was $30,000. “We are incredibly grateful to have met the goal and will be able to successfully implement the program to meet all of the locally enrolled children’s reading needs,” said Schaufenbuel, who is the president of United Way of Steele County. “The Women United membership are proud to provide this vital program to our local children.”

The program is open to any child in Steele County. The cost to the community is $25 per child per year to send age appropriate books to Steele County children from the time they’re born until they graduate the program at age 5. Women United is dedicated to advancing the Health and Welfare of all the children in our community.

Mark your calendars now for the next purse event on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

The mission of the United Way of Steele County is to change lives by mobilizing and optimizing the caring power of our community. For more information about this event or other United Way activity call 507-455-1180, or go to


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Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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