Cars, cocktails, and conversation

Cars, cocktails, and conversation

Vintage automobiles charge up fundraiser for Our Place

SAXTONS RIVER — “Cars, Cocktails, and Conversation” was the theme for a fundraiser for Our Place on Aug. 14 in Saxtons River.

The outdoor event featured an impressive assembly of vintage cars, ranging from World War II-era Jeeps to a recreated prototype of the first Land Rover, Britain's answer to the Jeep.

Jim and Jane Macri, owners of the Land Rover, hosted the vintage car-themed fundraiser at their panoramic hillside home. The event included catering by the Saxtons River Inn and featured classic cars brought by various guests.

The Macris have been longtime supporters of Our Place, a nonprofit that provides food to individuals in need.

“Our Place is a wonderful organization in our community that serves a very big need for people that are having difficulties at a particular time in their life,” Jim Macri said. “It is a very worthwhile organization, one that we like to support, and we have worked with them for years, contributing and supporting their various functions and fundraisers, and we will continue to support them.”

Our Place puts on many events and fundraisers for the community, including the Empty Bowl Dinner and Auction, which will take place on Nov. 5, at Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, N.H.

The “Cars, Cocktails, and Conversation” theme was created by Jim Macri, and the event was initiated and organized by Sarah Campbell, owner of the Saxtons River Inn.

There were many vintage cars provided by guests of the fundraiser, including a 1965 Ford Thunderbird convertible, 1945 Ford F1 pickup truck, a Jaguar, an MG, and a 1962 Karmann Ghia, as well as Jim Macri's collection of restored Land Rovers, including the prototype replica that he built from scratch, as the original no longer existed.

In 1947 the Rover's chief designer, Maurice Wilks, created a prototype with his associates using Jeep chassis and components. The first Land Rover was officially launched in 1948 at the Amsterdam Motor Show, and the prototype was discarded. It took years, but Macri reconstructed the original prototype of the Land Rover.

Jim Macri's interest in vintage cars, particularly Land Rovers, started in the 1960s when he was in college. Visiting Martha's Vineyard, where he met his wife, Jane, he witnessed Land Rovers in action for the first time.

“I loved them and I developed a real craving to buy them, to restore them,” he said. “I didn't do it immediately, but after about 10 or 15 years I started collecting one and then I got another, and now we have quite a collection, but the original appeal of the vehicle came with my exposure to them on Martha's Vineyard, a long time ago.”

Macri noted the large concentration of classic cars in the area.

“People love owning and restoring old cars,” he said, “and the work of bringing them back to new condition has a lot of appeal.”

Not only was there a large turnout of old cars, but nearly 100 people in the community attended the fundraiser.

Lisa Pitcher, executive director of Our Place, explained how events like these are “an opportunity to raise awareness about our work and the issues of poverty and food insecurity in our area and across Vermont, where about 70,000 people don't have regular access to healthy food.”

The event raised $7,500, Pitcher said, with additional pledged donations to buy a new computer and heating oil for Our Place.

“This was the first time that we held a fundraising event at a private home,” Pitcher said, “and we are grateful to Jim and Jane Macri for their generous hospitality. It was a lovely evening and I was happy to see many long-time supporters of Our Place and some new friends coming together to raise money to support our organization.”

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