Arkansas County Night of Hope Hosts 6th Annual Fundraiser Dinner

by Charlotte Purdy

Arkansas County ranks in the top counties when it comes to people who are diagnosed with cancer and every day new diagnoses are sadly given to patients across the county. It’s something that is often discussed around dinner tables and in public places, but behind the scenes, those who are diagnosed with cancer are battling just more than the horrible disease. “How will I continue to work and pay bills?” or “How will I pay for my medicines that aren’t covered by my insurance?” are often some of the first questions that run through a patient’s mind. Questions that should be the last of their worries!

Traveling back and forth to their chemo treatments and doctor’s visits quickly become additional costs that arise, costs that were completely unexpected and cause a burden that no cancer patient should have to endure.

Those financial burdens were one of the main reasons that Arkansas County Night of Hope formed, and on Saturday, March 11, 2023, ARCO Night of Hope hosted its 6th annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner and Silent Auction to raise monies for those who are fighting cancer. The event was held in the community room at the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas – DeWitt campus and more than 120 people attended, with many of those attendees being current and/or past cancer patients.

The setting for the dinner is different than other fundraiser dinners held in Arkansas County, as each table is decorated with a different theme and sponsored by local community members and ARCO NOH committee members who dress in attire that sets their tables apart from the others. Themes ranged from Poppies to the 1950s, Alice in Wonderland to Mardi Gras, and more.

As the guests made their way into the community room, they were greeted by “Celebrity Waiters” and escorted to their tables. Guests then browsed the nearly 50 silent auction items that were donated by local businesses and citizens and began placing their bids before the dinner was served.

Charlotte Purdy welcome everyone to the event shortly after 5 pm and thanked everyone for coming. “It is so heartwarming to see each of you tonight as we are gathered together to make a difference in a cancer patient's life. Seeing this room filled shows that our community stands together and together we are all making a difference!” Purdy then announced the table sponsors for the night, starting at the Easter table hosted by Ashlynne Jenkins as the annual Night of Hope Spotlight was sitting at her table. Abigail Fox, who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in 2022, was excited to be sitting at Jenkins’ table and what better way to kick off the night than to pay tribute to her for being at the event along with her family! After many treatments and doctor visits, Abigail is currently cancer free and it was an honor to have her at the event!

Other themed tables included: Poppy-hosted by Patricia Murray, Fish-hosted by Ashley Rhodes, Wine & Country-hosted by Charlotte Purdy, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-hosted by Ashley Rhodes, Flamingo-hosted by Chantel Poor, Bunnies-hosted by ARCO NOH, Hawaiian-hosted by PCCUA DeWitt Student Ambassadors, Together there is Hope-hosted by Concerned Citizens of DeWitt, Mardi Gras-hosted by Ashlynne Jenkins, 1950s hosted by DeWitt Senior Citizens Center, Jenga-hosted by I.M.A.G.E., DeWitt Youth Basketball-hosted by DeWitt Youth Basketball, Alice in Wonderland-hosted by PCCUA DeWitt Student Ambassadors, and Patriotic-hosted by Charlotte Purdy.

Chantel Poor then gave recognition to the Arkansas County Night of Hope committee members. Committee members include Ashley Rhodes, Charlotte Purdy, Chantel Poor, Hailey Anderson, Bobbi Fitzpatrick, and Ashlynne Jenkins. Poor asked that all current and past cancer patients stand if they’d like and each one was provided with a tote bag with a fleece blanket, puzzle book, and other goodie items from ARCO NOH. Then, everyone was asked to stand for a moment of silence and Foster Graham led everyone in prayer and Ashlynne Jenkins led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance before dinner was served.

Dinner for the night was salad, smoked pork loin that was perfectly prepared by Grumpy (Homer Campbell), green beans prepared by Chantel Poor, smoked rice and rolls prepared by Erin Watkins, and dessert prepared by Lynn Lockridge. As everyone enjoyed their meals, Abigail Fox’s Mom, Keli Fox, talked about Abigail’s journey and how the love and support from the community truly made the journey easier.

At 6:15 an announcement was made to remind everyone to get their bids in on the silent auction items and to be prepared to play a fun game at the closing of the auction. Attendees quickly filled the hallway and got their last-minute bids in, with some keeping an extra close eye on the items they were most interested in. When the time was called, everyone returned to the community room in anticipation to find out if they got the last bid on their favorite items.

While waiting, everyone enjoyed a fun game of “What’s in your purse?!” They say “You never know what’s in a woman’s purse!” and that was proven during the game. Random items such as a snack bar, phone charger, credit card, cash, a stick of gum, and more were called out and if someone had all of the required items, they won a goodie bag!

After multiple rounds of the game, the silent auction winners were announced. Some knew that they were the last bidders as they were watching over the sheets, while others weren’t sure if they got the last bid in or not, but whether they won or not, everyone enjoyed participating in the auction.

After all item winners were announced, whole and half pork loins, pans of rice, bags of rolls, and desserts were auctioned off in a live auction and the bidding competition was strong! You truly missed out on a delicious meal if you were unable to attend the event, that’s for sure!

Arkansas County Night of Hope committee members express their sincere gratitude to all who attended the event, donated to the event, prepared the food, hosted a table, and volunteered their time to help the 6th Annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner & Silent Auction a huge success. The community room was packed with supporters from near and far and the monies raised go to Arkansas County cancer patients.

If you know of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, please reach out to any of the committee members, contact Arkansas County Night of Hope on Facebook at, or call (870) 509-1575.

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