Iris Festival Silent Auction Fundraiser for Tornado Victims


By Haley Hart

Special to the Enterprise

Hello, my name is Haley Hart and I am the person who came up with the idea of the silent auction. Some of you may be wondering what caused me to come up with this idea in the first place. As many of you know, my mother, Leigh Hart, who several of you knew as Coach Avery and or Coach Hart, passed away last June due to her battle with cancer. She fought this fight for a little over two years, but before that she was a Health and P.E. Teacher for 30-plus years. She coached basketball, softball, and when needed, was the occasional cheer sponsor. She also started the school store at Dresden Middle School known as the Lions Den. She was a Beta Club Sponsor. She has helped with school yearbooks and so many other school activities. My mom truly left her mark at Dresden Middle School, but she also left her mark on the students and even the parents, and her passing was hard on, not just Dresden, but Weakley County too.

When the tornado hit our hometown and so many families lost their homes and even businesses, it truly affected me. Yes, I know I am one of the few lucky ones who didn’t suffer from the damage of the storm, but it affected me emotionally because this has been my home since I came into this world and this community has been here for us since my mom got diagnosed, and even since her passing, people have still been here for us. I knew in my heart that if my mother was still here with us, she would have been finding a way to give back, and so I decided to step up and fill that role in her memory.

It started with contacting my uncle, who is my mother’s brother, Paul Avery. He helped me come up with the design for the “The Iris Will Bloom Again” pop sockets and as soon as they were delivered, I started posting them on Facebook to start selling them to get some money coming in for fundraising for tornado victims. Then, not long after that, I started communicating with my friend, who is also my hair dresser, April Cashion. I told her how I felt and what my mom would have done and how I wanted to find a way to put together an event at the park to raise money for the tornado victims and host a silent auction, have food and music for people, face painting for kids, and so on. I wanted to do something fun for the town and to show them that they weren’t alone and that we can rise up again from this. But every time we would set a date the weather messed it up or the Covid numbers went up again .

I talked to the park manager and he told me he communicated with Mayor (Jeff) Washburn and they decided to allow me to host the silent auction event during the Iris Festival Grand Opening at Wilson Park under the park pavilion once the Pet show was over. On April 30, from 6-8 p.m., we did exactly that. I had another vendor set up with me, Tiffani Ozier from HoneyBee Custom Designs, who donated half of what she made that night and we had a really good turn out at the silent auction.

We had items from Southern Grace, Urban Design, Buff City Soap, Hair Worx, Hops & Barley, Sonic, Pro Nails, Haley Hamar’s Sweets & Eats, Smith & Sons, Sweet Jordan’s, Amy Mitchell, JuJu’s Boutique, and a few others! And by the end of the night from the silent auction, the pop sockets I had made, and the percentage from Tiffani, we were able to raise $570!

I have been smiling ear to ear since I got the grand total because I know, deep down, my mom would have been proud too. On Monday, May 2, I took the money to the bank to have one check made up and will be handing it over to the Rotary Club of Dresden. I will give it to Brandi Webb to help them with the fundings for the tornado victims.