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Annual auction returns to the M-Bar-C Ranch

A wagon load of pioneer children heads out into the wilds of the M-Bar-C’s 50-acre ranch in Freeland, part of a program to provide enrichment opportunities for kids with special needs. - Photo courtesy of Bill O’Brien
A wagon load of pioneer children heads out into the wilds of the M-Bar-C’s 50-acre ranch in Freeland, part of a program to provide enrichment opportunities for kids with special needs.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Bill O’Brien

M-Bar-C Ranch in Freeland will hold an auction Saturday that means something special.

The ranch runs a program for children who have a variety of special needs, either physical, mental, emotional or financial.

Situated on 50 acres of rolling pasture land and operated by The Forgotten Children’s Fund, ranch facilities provide both focused activity and a calming environment for the children who go there.

The auction dinner will feature appetizers, a gourmet entrée and Whidbey Island fine wine locally produced by Blooms Winery. Auction attendees will be served by local sailors from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and for the fifth year, local auctioneer Dale Sherman will be calling the shots, joined by Jim Freeman. A full range of items in both silent and live auctions will be available for purchase.

The auction is the ranch’s major fundraiser; just over $90,000 was netted in last year’s event.

“It will help us stay open another year,” said organizer Bill O’Brien. “Remember that we don’t charge them and we need operating funds.”

O’Brien explained the money goes for care of the animals and general maintenance. “Everything costs more this year, of course,” he added.

Children visiting the ranch have the opportunity to be the “most kid they can be” for the time they are there. There are no expectations set for them other than safe behavior standards. There are no limits to what they can try to do within this safety net. They can ride horses, be pretend cowboys or Indians and run, walk or roll pretty much any place they want. They can participate in a wide variety of craft projects. And they also find new friends in the volunteers and staff who strive to maintain a “cowboy” appearance for the kids.

This is Freeman’s first time assisting on the auction block to raise money for The Forgotten Children’s Fund.

“What these people do is very uplifting to me and the many volunteers who help out,” Freeman said.

He said he always wanted to be a cowboy but it didn’t happen because he’s afraid of horses.

“What is amazing is that these kids have a connection to the animals that’s hard to explain,” he said. “They have no fear and the horses sense that.”

The ranch’s on-site helpers have special training to work with the children plus the “heart” to give that extra smile, all of which is free to participating children and their caregivers.

For information, call O’Brien at 331-6019 or visit www.m-bar-c.org.

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