A projected $43,000 was raised on Saturday during Russell Childhood Development Center’s 31st Annual Fantasy Tree Festival.

The funds are used for the tiny-k early intervention program that provides services in 13 southwest Kansas counties to eligible infants and toddlers up to age 3 who have developmental delays and disabilities, as well as their families, according to Deanna Berry, executive director of RCDC.

The weekend event featured a variety of items up for bid during a silent and live auction.

Items featured in the live auction included various Christmas decor, electronics, sports memorabilia, jewelry and furniture.

Items like a jersey from Ron Baker, a Scott City native now playing for the New York Knicks, sold well in the auction, Berry said. A rustic-like Christmas tree was auctioned off for $1,100, which was the highest bid of the night.

The six-foot tree had pre-lit branches, snowy garland, snowflakes, antlers, and jingle bells.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it (fundraising),” Berry said. “In the fundraising world, there’s a lot of talk about fundraising events vs. other ways to approach donors. For this one to have been a tradition I think speaks to people's respect for Russell and the services it offers… The community is very supportive, and we see the community as our multiple counties… It’s not Finney County.”

RCDC covers 19 counties in southwest Kansas, including Greeley, Wichita, Scott, Lane, Ness, Hamilton, Kearny, Finney, Hodgeman, Stanton, Grant, Haskell, Gray, Ford, Morton, Stevens, Steward, Meade and Clark.

Stacey Montgomery, communications and multimedia/fund development and event coordinator for RCDC, said an estimated 250 attended the event, which is about average.

Funds for RCDC’s programs are not the only funds that are being raised for the agency, as its “Building a Brighter Future” campaign for its new facility continues.

Berry said on Monday that nearly 84 percent of the funds for RCDC's new $5 million facility has been raised through both individual and business donors, as well as grants.

RCDC will move to 2700 Jennie Barker Road from its current location at 714 Ballinger Road. The current facility is in an 8,000-square-foot building, which Berry said has reached its capacity. The agency’s new facility will nearly triple the current facility in size at about 22,000 square feet, she said.

The overall goal of the capital campaign is $7.5 million, Berry said.

"I think we’re in a pretty good place. We’re kind of in a quiet place at the moment,” she said. “We’ve really been focused on raising the $5 million that we need for the construction part of the campaign. We’re nearing that… After the first of the year, we’ll be looking to put it out for bid.”

Of the other $2.5 million of the campaign, $1 million will go toward increased costs for running and maintaining the new facility.

“We know it’ll cost more — insurance, utilities, upkeep, all of that… We don’t want to have to dig that up,” Berry said, adding that the other $1.5 million is to build up the endowment reserves for program stability. “We are at the mercy of (donors) and various grants and things, so it just gives us a good base for maintaining what we do.”

The new facility will offer more storage space, conference rooms, and in general additional space for employees and clients, Berry said.

“The building itself is in good condition,” Berry said of RCDC’s current facility. “It’s totally fine, it just isn’t big enough for the things we’re trying to do from it.”

Montgomery said she is most excited about the additional storage space in the new facility.

“We’re currently using every nook and cranny in everyone’s office, every hallway, even bathrooms,” she said. “I’m also most excited for the conference room, just being able to hold seminars and not having to rent out spaces.”

According to the RCDC, the groups of people who will benefit from the new building include:

• Families of young children in southwest Kansas who participate in programs and services provided by RCDC staff.

• RCDC staff members, who will have a functional workplace with the necessary equipment and technology to do a better job.

• Community partners and stakeholders, who will benefit by having a predictable, comfortable and accessible place to attend meetings, training sessions and other activities.

• The outreach, regional and local specialists and other healthcare providers, who will benefit from the support services being provided to their clients in all 19 counties served by the RCDC staff.

Berry and RCDC staff are hoping that ground can be broken for the new facility sometime in spring 2018.

Those interested in donating toward the campaign can do so at http://www.rcdc4kids.org, where more information on the campaign can be found, as well.

Contact Josh Harbour at jharbour@gctelegram.com.