Tubie Friends online fundraising auction to benefit children begins Thursday

Jonah shows off his Tubie Friend. (Photo courtesy Tubie Friends)

Beginning Thursday, people can purchase items such as an 8-pound block of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Funko figurines, two hours of kayaking on Lake Union, a Harry Potter gift set, a “Chick Flick” gift basket, and even a unicorn encounter while donating to a charitable cause. Tubie Friends, a South Snohomish County-based nonprofit organization that helps families who have children with feeding tubes or other medical devices implanted in their bodies, is holding its annual spring fundraising auction online April 21-24.

The all-volunteer organization provides customized stuffed animals with feeding and other types of medical tubes attached to them in order to help make life easier for children who rely on such devices. The plush animals are modified by volunteers – it dubs as “Tubie Friend Surgeons” — who mirror as closely as possible a child’s individual medical interventions on the animal by attaching a similar, although nonfunctional, tube or device onto it.

Once completed, the finished stuffed animal functions both as a comfort aid that’s relatable for children needing various types of tubes as well as a teaching tool for the child, their family members, friends and caregivers. Each Tubie Friend comes with a letter for parents that includes information resources and support groups available along with a custom card signed by its “surgeon(s).”

The modified stuffed animals are provided to people and medical facilities strictly by donation. Suggested donation amounts are listed —  linked to prices of the materials sourced for the various offerings — but people who can’t afford that amount can still get one as long as they can pay for standard shipping costs.

Tubie Friends’ annual auction helps raise funds for sponsoring kids who are on its waiting list because their family isn’t able to contribute any amount of money. The organization’s staff consists of a small board of local directors from Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Mill Creek along with dedicated volunteers, most of whom have been directly impacted by someone needing to rely on having a medical tube implanted.

Supporters’ “assistance will help us reach our goal of raising enough money to sponsor 100 children waiting for a Tubie Friend,” said Shannon Gonsalves, who  co-founded the charity. “Help us take the fear out of feeding tubes one Tubie Friend at a time.”

There are nearly 150 individual auction listings for people to bid on, including themed gift baskets that consist of several goodies and/or gift cards. Basket themes offered include arts and craft supplies, barbecue, coffee products, personal care items, toys, games, activities, kitchen items and wines. In addition, Gonsalves noted that Filling the Frame Photography recently donated $1,100 in gift certificates for photo shoot sessions.

The online fundraising auction can be previewed here. It begins accepting bids on Thursday, April 21 at 6 a.m. and runs through Sunday, April 24 at 7 p.m. Bidding is anonymous, except to auction administrators, and some items include the option to skip that process in order to “buy it now.” After the auction is completed, items can be picked up in Mountlake Terrace or shipped to the winning bidders for an additional cost.

You can read more in our previous story here.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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