Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual benefit auction set for Friday, April 11 in Nashua

AMHERST – The Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce presents the seventh annual Benefit Auction to benefit the Chaplain’s Emergency Relief Fund on Friday, April 11, from 6-10 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua.

The Chaplain’s Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) is a nonprofit organization that assists New Hampshire military families with emergency financial needs.

Service men and women make many sacrifices while doing the service to their country, from the time away from loved ones to the danger and stress of wartime. Their families, too, are making a sacrifice. The Chaplain’s Emergency Relief Fund was founded to provide support to our active duty military families, both financial and support services, who are also sacrificing for the good of their country.

For some New Hampshire military families, the need is basic – one spouse is serving in Afghanistan and the spouse at home is finding it difficult to make ends meet with a diminished household income. CERF provides financial relief to such families, as well as finding referrals for assistance, such as childcare and support services to help children cope with having a parent serving active duty.

CERF also provides assistance to veterans returning from active duty and finding the reintegration back into civilian life a difficult transition. Unemployment and the lack of services to address the physical and mental toll of war continue to plague our veterans. According to a survey by the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association), 45 percent of those who served in those countries are unemployed and a disturbing 30 percent have considered taking their own life.* Lack of funding limits the availability of services to help the vast number of our veterans.

CERF was established in 1990 during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Since that time, the fund has been able to help more than 200 New Hampshire military families in need. Any person serving as a member of a military unit located in New Hampshire, or any military person with a “home of record” in New Hampshire, is eligible for the fund. Grants are for temporary financial assistance, and are not available on an ongoing basis. Grants are gifts, not loans. Money for the fund comes solely from individual and corporate contributions. The fund is managed by volunteer trustees, all of whom are New Hampshire Army or Air National Guard chaplains. All of those giving their time for the fund are volunteers. Of the money received as donations, 100 percent goes directly toward emergency assistance.

The benefit auction this year will feature an elegant new location at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua.

Live auction items include a one week stay in Menerbes, a villa in the Provence Luberon area of France. If waking to the smells of lavender fields warming in the sun sounds enticing, the villa makes the trip even more so. Newly remodeled with all modern appliances and baths, decorated in Provencal style, the villa sleeps four and features stunning views of the Luberon Valley.

Perhaps Italy is more to taste? The auction will also feature a one-week stay in Rocca di Benano, in the Umbria, Tuscany region of Italy. A lovely villa within walking distance of vineyards and a market, the villa sleeps 10 with four baths.

Is an African safari on your bucket list? Bid on a six days and six nights in lovely Zulu Nyala, the setting for the film “I Dreamed of Africa” with Kim Basinger. The lodge features luxury accommodations including a pool, all meals included, and two daily safaris.

Red Sox tickets, Bruins tickets, New England Revolution tickets (with a parking pass), and Fisher Cat box seats for 20 of your friends are just some of the great sports items at the auction.

If it’s an adrenaline rush you crave, bid on an introductory glider ride, tandem hangliding or skyjumping. Take a sunset sail in a gundalow around Portsmouth Harbor and learn to crew.

Tickets are $75 per person and on sale now on the website www.souhegan.net or contact the chamber office at 673-4360.