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Guests enjoyed discounts throughout the mall, musical entertainment, appetizers and raffle prizes at Big Creek Crossing and United Way of Ellis County’s “Night of Giving” on Friday.

The event was first implemented in 2013 as a way to give back. All proceeds earned go directly to United Way, according to Katie Dorzweiler, Big Creek Crossing property manager.

In the past, the event was in held in the center court where guests mixed and mingled only in that location, and then went on to shop.

“This year, it’s more of an entire property experience,” Dorzweiler said.

United Way’s Sherry Dryden and Erica Berges teamed up with Big Creek Crossing to host the event.

“We were very grateful they contacted us to do this again,” said Dryden, United Way executive director. “One-hundred percent of the proceeds go back into our local community and economy.”

Guests received United Way brochures that highlighted the approximately 15 participating stores within the mall. For every store visited, they received a stamp within their brochures which translated into raffle tickets that offered a chance to win prizes.

Donated by Riddle’s Jewelry, a diamond ring valued at $2,000 was raffled off. Additionally, a one-year membership to Munsch Fitness — Hays’ newest gym set to have its grand opening Jan. 1 — was part of the raffle. Guests also had the chance to win a gift basket valued at over $500 from all the tenants at Big Creek Crossing.

Elodie Jones, a Fort Hays State University professor, attended the event with a group of friends, and said contributing to United Way’s mission was important to her.

“I think it’s amazing that 100 percent of the proceeds go to United Way,” she said. “You can come out, have fun, pay a very small amount and still donate toward a good cause.”

Each participating store in the mall featured a table in front of their business, which highlighted the “Frost Yourself” theme for the night, according to Dorzweiler. Tenants competed against one another for the best decorated table.

“The reason for the theme? We, the mall, provided participants with an 8 foot table and they get to decorate it with their products or do with it what they want,” Dorzweiler said. “We decide on a winner and I will award them with a prize.”

Many tables were decked out in sparkly Christmas decor, and offered snacks including chocolate-covered strawberries, sliders and cupcakes.

Additionally, a Smoky Hills Winery representative poured wine samples for guests.

“United Way impacts so many organizations throughout Ellis County and we are just so happy to be a partner with them and give back,” Dorzweiler said. “This event is great for our property, great for United Way and great for the community.”

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