There are many strands — or are they blades? — of a dried yellowish green grassy looking substance.

They fill the dimensional shadow box picture frame under the glass. At the very bottom of the landscape, easy to miss with 50-something eyes, is a tiny, white furry member of the sheep family.

“Guess what this one is called?” chortles John Starnes.

“Hey, Ewe!”

And so goes the last-minute organizing for one of the best feel-good fundraisers of the year, this Saturday’s Art a la Carte to benefit the Child Development Center of Natrona County.

Students at the center, which serves ages birth to 5, have crafted 45 pieces of hanging art — all framed this year — and 45 pieces of pottery that will be auctioned. Michele Heaphy, owner of Pottery by You, visits the center and helps children paint pottery pieces. She has also donated several others, many in University of Wyoming and Western themes.

The center serves 600 children with a staff of 100 and the support of 13 active board members.

Starnes is the executive director at the center, and on this day, he is merely an admirer of the magic that Julie Andrew, president of the board and event chairman, is working.

This event’s theme is Western, and there are signs to be finished with the names of sponsors painted on old barn wood.

There are also 10 handmade child-sized wooden step stools, decorated in myriad Western designs. The stools were crafted by staff member Ken Carpenter. Some are pink for little cowgirls, and some are brown to give little cowboys a hand.

The father of another staff member donated a framed intricate wildlife wood carving.

“People like us and they just give us stuff,” Andrew said. “We feel very, very blessed by this community. The message is out there. People just get what we do and it is so heart-warming.”

Indeed, there is so much support for the annual spring event that a very limited number of tickets remain at $60 each.

Neil McMurry has donated the use of his Big Red Hangar at the Natrona County International Airport, where doors open at 5:30 p.m., on Saturday and dinner starts at 6 p.m. Then there will be brief auctions, drawings and raffles, and the evening ends by 9 p.m.

“Neil loves that we finish early,” Andrew said.

Community News editor Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at 307-266-0520;; read her blog at; or follow her on Twitter @WYOSAS

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