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St. Henry's on the receiving end of family generosity

About 84 of the 92 Seifert family members came together for an 85th birthday celebration for Ann Seifert (holding the Seifest sign) and family reunion. Also in “attendance” was the family mascot, Bessie, far left, and Jake, who was unable to attend the reunion. Instead, his picture was mounted on a stick and he appears in the back of the photo.

Besides the usual fun of a family reunion, the Seifert family also decided to give back to the Perham school four generations of children have attended for several decades.

About 84 of the 92 descendants of John and Ann Seifert gathered in late July at the home of Pat and Don Hendrickx. They hadn't all been together since Pat's father died 11 years ago. With nine siblings, who have children who have children, and hectic schedules, the family just doesn't get to see each other very often, Hendrickx said.

The idea of a family reunion really took shape around the 85th birthday celebration of Pat's mother and just grew.

"We wanted to connect," she said of planning the get together. "We want our kids connected, and their kids. We want to keep it going."

When the idea of the reunion came up last winter, one of Pat's brothers, Tim, who was in on the planning thought it would be "cool" to have a silent auction and donate the money to St. Henry's Area School, where their mother had attended school in the 1930s. Since her time at the school, several generations of Seiferts have learned the three Rs of education within its walls, with about nine Seifert descendants presently enrolled there.

So everyone brought an item or two for the auction and the bidding wars began, Hendrickx said. When closing an item on the auction, family members were jostling and jockeying to be the last bidder.

"We had a garage full of stuff. There were kid things too, so they could also bid" Hendrickx said. "Everyone was 'fighting' to put that last bid down."

At the end of the auction, the family had raised $1,058 for St. Henry's. Principal Jason Smith, a neighbor of the Hendrickx family on Mosquito Lane in rural Perham, stopped by the reunion for the check presentation and said the money would be put toward a special project at the school.

"It just turned out so great," she said. "We couldn't have been happier that it turned out that way."

With plans already in the works for another reunion next year, the family will be thinking of another local project to give the money to, Hendrickx said.