The price of peace 

It’s not the same old war, so why should it be the same old fundraiser for peace? That’s what the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center board was thinking when it came up with the idea behind this year’s annual fundraiser. Instead of looking just to Missoula for donated auction items, the board called on celebrity peaceniks for help.

After sending out dozens of letters to celebrities, the Peace Center received a handful of signed books, albums and memorabilia to auction off on Saturday, Oct. 4. A watercolor of the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta signed by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, a DVD of the first season of Friends signed by Elliott Gould (Ross and Monica’s dad), and a Mary Tyler Moore script signed by Ed Asner—just to name a few.

Bidder Joe Arndt picked up a copy of Ralph Nader’s Crash!ng the Party with the inscription, “For Justice! On behalf of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center,” for $45.

“I’m not particularly a fan of Ralph Nader,” says Arndt. “I just felt that nobody was bidding on this item. I’ve got my money all over the place and I shouldn’t because I spent a wad today at Home Depot buying stuff for my son’s house.”

Out-of-towner Arndt and his wife, who consider themselves peace advocates and marched against “the son-of-a-bitch’s” Iraq war, were visiting their son and thought it would be a good idea to help out.

Although many of the donated items went for less than $100, a mighty bidding war arose over a signed Pete Seeger CD. When the disc finally went for $125, the crowd of 300 or so released a victorious cheer.

It’s too soon to calculate the exact amount raised, but Peace Center Executive Director Anita Doyle estimates the event brought in about $17,000. That’s about the same amount brought in by last year’s auction, but the cost of staging the event was less this year. Doyle says it’s hard to tell if the celebrity items raised the bar for future fundraisers.

“It was fun for us,” she says. “But whether or not it added to the event, I don’t know.”

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