Melissa Potter, left, shows off the selection of baked goods she and a group of fellow volunteers prepared for their bake sale fundraiser, which they held inside Beeson Street Bar and Grill on Saturday. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Melissa Potter, left, shows off the selection of baked goods she and a group of fellow volunteers prepared for their bake sale fundraiser, which they held inside Beeson Street Bar and Grill on Saturday. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Beeson Street fundraiser surpasses goal

Published 9:11am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Although her table full of pies, cookies and jams contrasted sharply with the usual fare of burgers and beer served inside the dimly lit bar it was located in, Melissa Potter’s bake sale proved to be quite the attraction for downtown visitors Saturday afternoon.

The Dowagiac resident was one of several local women who helped organize and run the sale, which took place during the Dowagiac Ice Time Festival inside Beeson Street Bar and Grill. By 1:30 p.m., their entire inventory of baked goods had sold out, earning $283.50 in the process, Potter said,

Making the sale even sweeter was the fact the proceeds were donated to Potter’s longtime friend, Sharilee Sprowles. Potter and her friends have spent the last several weeks raising money for Sprowles, who will undergo a rare and expensive surgery later this month to remove a cyst from deep inside her brain.

With the money made on Saturday, the women have collected around $2,500 in donations, more than enough to cover the $1,500 deductible Sprowles must pay up front for her operation.

“I’m so excited for her,” Potter said. “She was crying all night long after we gave her the news.”

Potter has been friends with Sprowles for more than 25 years. The two attended high school together in Florida, where they both served as photographers for the school newspaper, Potter said.

“People thought it was really great that we were all helping our friend, especially when they found out I was friends with Sharilee for so long,” she said.

Potter said she and the other volunteers set up their table inside of Beeson Street around 10 a.m., just a few feet from the bar. Potter was one of eight women who baked desserts for the sale, which include eight full- size cakes, two pans of brownies, bread and jars of pickles and jellies.

“There wasn’t even a single pack of cookies left when we were finished,” Potter said.

The group was able to secure the venue during the busy festival day with the help of Peggie Hood and Marci Killarney, who agreed to help after Potter told them of her friend’s condition.

At first, many of the visitors who came by their table at Beeson’s had already heard of the sale, and came to show their support. By afternoon, though, the bar had filled with hungry patrons, many of whom were more than happy to spend a little extra some home-baked desserts, Potter said.

Although they were only charging only $1 to $2 per item, they were able to easily surpass the amount of cash they originally expected to make on Saturday, Potter said.

“[Customers] were willing to pay more than what we charging, because they found out what we were doing it for,” she said.

In addition to the bake sale, Potter and the other volunteers held a 50-50 raffle to help drum up some additional money.

“A lot of people wrote, ‘give the money back’ on their ticket,” Potter recalled.

The winner did just that, donating the $56 they won back to them.

A number of the volunteers also brought their children out to the sale as well, who helped man the tables alongside their parents.

“It showed the kids that helping others, just giving our time, is important,” Potter said. “Volunteering your time, even at a silly bake sale, adds up. It can really help someone out.”

Sprowles will fly out to Austin, Texas, for her operation on Feb. 20, where she will stay for more than a month following the surgery. Potter hopes that the money raised on Saturday will help pay for at least three nights at the hotel, she said.

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