Communities And Friends Unite For Hoxeng Benefit

VOLIN — A fund-raiser to benefit a Volin woman has brought out the best in area communities.

Set to take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Wakonda Legion Hall, donations for the Julie Hoxeng benefit have surpassed organizers' expectations despite a planning period of only seven weeks.

Hoxeng is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

According to organizer Pam Ganschow, more than 200 items have been collected for a live and silent auction, and more than $11,000 has been raised from area residents.

What the event needs now is bidders, Ganschow said. "People have been generous enough to come and donate, so now we need people to bid."

The evening will include a pork loin sandwich dinner, for which a freewill donation will be held. Auctions are set to begin at 7 p.m., and will conclude at approximately 8:30 p.m., Ganschow said. Music will be provided by the band, The After Bar.

"We're hoping to miss the snowstorms," she said. "I know they're talking about some weather (for Wednesday), but we're hoping it gets in and gets out so we can scoop out and be ready for it."

Hoxeng's grown children, Amber Sorensen and Brian Hoxeng, both have been involved in planning the benefit for their mother. It was Sorensen who made the initial call that got the planning started.

She said both of her parents are moved by the public outpouring.

"They're very overwhelmed," Sorensen said. "They did not expect the response from the community that they've gotten. Not everybody knew the situation as it is now, so they're very overwhelmed."

Brian Hoxeng said his mother currently is "really trying to focus on getting better now," and has taken a leave of absence from her job at First National Bank of South Dakota in Yankton to do that.

"She's still a fighter," Hoxeng said. "She's fighting it, but she's just tired. But her spirits are always up. She knows she's going to beat this."

Julie Hoxeng was diagnosed with cancer Dec. 31, 2002. After treatment, she went into remission for two years, but the cancer returned.

"She's been fighting ever since," Sorensen said.

Sorensen and her brother both said they appreciate the help they're receiving from community members.

"We've had so many people come out and want to donate and help — either donating money, donating their time — in any way they can," Sorensen said. "It's amazing how many people from all over are wanting to come in and either be there for the day, or give support."

"This community really does get involved when one of their own needs help," Brian Hoxeng added. "Then they all come together."

Sorensen described her mother as "probably the most loving, supporting, strong-willed person" she has ever known. "I hate to see her go through this," she said.

"She pretty much explained it all right there," Hoxeng said. "She's my best friend, too. … I can talk to my mom about anything. This hits hard."

Sorensen said the public's response to her mother's illness is fitting in that Julie Hoxeng is such a giving person herself.

"She would do anything for anybody," Sorensen said. "She's helped out with our friends in their times of need, or in our school events when we were in high school. She was there to back us up if there wasn't a coach, or they just needed extra help. She was there to do it."

These sentiments were echoed by some of Hoxeng's coworkers, who also have been assisting in planning the benefit.

"Julie's a real go-getter," said Phyllis Hunhoff. "She's dedicated to her job. She's a caring person."

"I've worked with her since she's been (at the bank), and we've become very good friends," said Teresa Kokesh. "She's awesome to work with, and I want her to come back. We miss her."

"If anything would happen to any of us, she would be out there trying to do the same thing that we're doing for her," said Amy Haver.

Jean Koupal, a former coworker of Hoxeng's, added, "If we can help in any way, we are there for her. We just all want her to know that."

Sorensen said her mother is planning to make an appearance at the benefit "at some point. It depends on how much energy she has."

Regardless of whether they see her on Saturday night, Brian Hoxeng encouraged everyone to "just come down, have a good time and show support."

Financial donations can be made by calling Cortrust Bank in Gayville at 267-4487, First Premier Bank in Wakonda at 267-2665 or First National Bank of South Dakota in Yankton at 665-9611. A matching fund up to $1,500 has been established by the Modern Woodmen of Randolph, Neb.

For more information about the benefit, Pam Ganschow can be reached at 267-2607.

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