JAY — The Jay AMVETS Special Olympic Committee is planning for the annual kick-off dinner and auction Jan. 28.

The group has collected autographed sports memorabilia, gift certificates, tickets to sporting events, theme baskets and other items to auction off to benefit Special Olympians from the greater Franklin County area.

Members will also be cooking up some tasty dishes for the dinner that will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at the AMVETS Post 33 Hall on Main Street in Jay. The auction will follow.

The menu is baked ham, scalloped potatoes, chicken pot pie, fish chowder, turkey stew, baked ziti, baked beans, coleslaw and desserts. Donations to cover the cost will be accepted.

Special Olympians are scheduled to converge at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley on Sunday, Jan. 29, for the Special Olympics Maine Winter Games.

Test trials and events will be held Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The AMVETS committee has worked for years to make sure the athletes have the equipment and gear they need to participate. It started more than 30 years ago when a member of the AMVETS Post 33 took his snowmobile to Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley to give rides to Special Olympians.

Since then, the number of volunteers from the American Veterans’ organization, their affiliates and other veterans from the Jay area has grown. They make the annual trek to Sugarloaf Mountain to give athletes a ride on snowmobiles and do what they can to help them out. The committee has provided skis, ski poles, helmets, uniforms and whatever else they need.

They have also raised more than $200,000 over the years and volunteers have put in more 20,000 hours to make the athletes venture a success.

Among the auction items this year are a white, Patriots football signed by Julian Edelman, an autographed picture of Celtics player Paul Pierce, a Bruins puck signed by Brad Marchand and a Red Sox baseball signed by Adrian Gonzalez.

There is also a Red Claws inaugural, limited edition book signed by the basketball team’s head coach, Austin Ainge. There are also four Sea Dogs baseball tickets, two tickets to Oxford Plains Speedway 250, two combined passes to Funtown, Splashtown, and two certificates from Webber Energy Fuels for 50 gallons of No. 2 oil. Other items include certificates to the Chuck Wagon Restaurant, a certificate for a free exam, rabies vaccination and a distemper shot from the Falls Road Veterinary Clinic in Farmington.

There are also several themed baskets, including coffee, tea and bears. There is also a chance to get multiple gift certificates ranging from $5 to $500 in services in a Chinese Auction, silent auction style activity.

Besides winter games, the committee also sponsors bowling days, track and field games, and other events to benefit Special Olympians during the year.

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