Thievery sours Arbuckle fundraiser

Knights of Columbus member, Merced Corona refills the serving tray of chippino during the annual 'Taste of Italy' fundraising event.

Organizers hope suspected thief will have a change of heart

Among the most popular annual fundraising events in Arbuckle, the Knights of Columbus’s “A Taste of Italy” is typically a feel-good story: In exchange for their patronage, supporters are treated to a tasty cioppino or tri-tip dinner, and the chance to take home homemade cakes, and a plethora of silent auction items. All of the proceeds go back to the community in some way, from scholarships to community projects.

That wasn’t the case this year, as organizers believe that someone made off with the proceeds from the silent auction and chainsaw raffle – which was somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,300.

“Pretty much what happened is our dinner went off just fine,” said Terry Wilderman, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus John Paul II Council No. 14112. “At some point in the evening when we were trying to figure out the donation baskets, the money for our silent auction and our chainsaw raffle was set on the table next to the people trying to organize things, and we believe someone walked off with it.”

Wilderman said that he was first informed of the missing money at around 7:20 to 7:30 PM, and organizers believe the money was taken at around 6:50 PM. While he said he would be checking in the dumpsters at the Arbuckle Fire Hall on Monday to make sure that the money wasn’t mistakenly thrown away, Wilderman said that he strongly believed that couldn’t have happened.

“As of right now, we believe it walked out the door,” Wilderman said. “It’s hard to come to grips with that. We’ll deal with it, and we’ll move on. It certainly won’t sink us, but we just won’t be able to do as much (for the community) as we wanted to this year.”

Wilderman said that the missing money has been reported to the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office.

Colusa County Sheriff Lt. Mark Contreras confirmed that they had received the report of a possible theft on Saturday night at about 10:40 PM.

“The Knights of Columbus were holding their fundraiser at the Arbuckle Fire Hall,” Contreras said. “There were two envelopes containing cash and checks, and both manila envelopes were taken off a table that was inside the hall.”

Contreras added that he was informed that the Knights of Columbus had contacted everyone who wrote checks to cancel them.

Anyone with information regarding the missing money is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (530) 458-0200.

While the Sheriff’s Office has been notified and are investigating the potential theft, the Knights of Columbus are hoping that the person who took the envelopes will have a change of heart. Wilderman said that the money could be anonymously returned to the Knights of Columbus by sending it to the Sacred Heart Parish office, located at 627 Eighth St. in Williams.

“If the money were to turn up, there would be no questions asked,” Wilderman said. “We would like the money back, that’s all. If it were to show up, we’d be happy and we would let it go, and we wouldn’t seek prosecution.”■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.