34th Hometown Community Benefit Sept. 9

Philip A. Janquart
It’s almost time for the 34th annual Hometown Community Benefit.
 The two-day event kicks off Saturday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. with the highly anticipated Taste of the Treasure Valley Charity Auction and Dinner, which returns this year to the Big Red Barn located at the Malheur County Fairgrounds.
 Last year, it was held at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, which was not available for the 2023 event due to the Dinosaurs in Motion exhibit that runs through the end of the month.
 Taste of the Treasure Valley welcomes pianist Steve Eaton who will provide live entertainment for guests as they stroll through the barn, tasting beer, wine, and plenty of great food, as well as soft drinks provided by a host of restaurants and caterers from around the area.
 This year, 35 VIP sponsors paid between $1,500 and $2,500 for tables. Organizers expect to see up  to 300 guests for the event, not counting those who pay $20 at the door for open seating to attend.
 “The VIP sponsorships are sold out,” Hometown Motors owner and event founder, Steve Dominguez, told the Signal American last week. “But there is open seating, and we will make room for people if they want to come enjoy the auction and dinner.”
 The Hometown Community Benefit Golf Tournament is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 10 at Scotch Pines Golf Course in Payette. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. There are 36 teams that signed up to participate.
 The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service order, will be providing hotdogs, hamburgers, and chorizos during the tournament.
Giving back
 The Hometown Community Benefit typically raises tens of thousands of dollars that are allocated to a number of local charities.
As vice president of Help Them to Hope, an Ontario-based nonprofit charitable organization, Dominguez has seen first-hand how some struggle to make ends-meet.
 “There are so many families in our tri-county area that need help,” he said. “When I started with Help Them to Hope 26 years ago, I had no idea of the need, especially around the holidays.”
 The organization serves the tri-county area, providing families and seniors with food boxes, toys, clothing, gift bags, and packaged meals.
 Dominguez said last year the organization serviced over 700 families in Indian Valley, Midvale, Weiser, Fruitland, Payette, New Plymouth, Wilder, Adrian, and Brogan, surpassing the previous year’s count of approximately 650 families.
 “We distributed 420 bicycles and out of all the families, combined with children, nursing homes, care centers, and Meals on Wheels, we touched over 2,500 people,” he said.
 Every year, the organization distributes food items and bikes the week before Christmas. This year, distribution will take place on Sunday, Dec. 17 at the old Hanigan Chevrolet building in Payette.
 “If anyone wants to donate to Help Them to Hope between now and then, we are certainly open for donations,” Dominguez said.
 Those who wish to participate in the program can do so by filling out an application, which can be found at local food banks, the Ontario Department of Human Services, at 186 E. Lane St. Suite 2 in Ontario, and WICAP (Western Idaho Community Action Partnership), located at 314 S. Main St. in Payette. 
 Applications are also available on the Help Them to Hope website at https://helpthemtohopecharity.org/.
 Other organizations the auction and golf tournament benefit include Next Chapter Food Pantry, Ontario Food Bank, Elks Food Basket programs, and more, as well as local families in need.
 The event additionally helps fund the annual Ho-Ho Express, an event founded by Weiser’s Joe Malay over 30 years ago.
It turns out Joe has a special connection with Santa Claus who takes some 250 kids and their chaperones on a police-escorted bus ride to the Walmart in Ontario where they are allowed to spend money on presents or personal needs or wants.
 This year’s Ho-Ho Express is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16.
 “We usually give about $50 to each kid and try to get about 250 kids, with about that many helpers, so we’ll have about 500 people there. We spend between $12,000 and $15,000 over there in about 56 minutes,” said Joe, who has teamed up with Hometown Dealerships for the last 34 years.
 “It’s pretty special,” he said. “The buses take us over and we usually get a police escort, and they go over with us, and the ISP (Idaho State Patrol) is out front with their lights flashing. We bring up the rear with Santa Claus. It’s controlled chaos, and it’s pretty cool.”
 Upon returning to Weiser, kids have the option of getting their presents wrapped by volunteers cutting paper and curling ribbon in Weiser High School’s cafeteria.
 Joe also takes the entire student body at Annex Charter School, as well as select Weiser Middle School kids, to Bi-Mart in Weiser.
 Select high school kids receive a gift certificate for Walmart in Ontario.
 The events usually take place just before Christmas. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
 Joe said that volunteers are still needed and invites individuals to come participate.  For more information about the Ho-Ho Express, call Joe at (208) 794-7166.



Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

Connect with Us