A piece of art that will be part of the silent auction.

Paula Caucutt opened Natural Connection at 1012 Superior Ave., Tomah, 12 years ago. She describes the store as an alternative health emporium that sells vitamins, supplements and essential oils. She also carries beauty aids and organic foodstuffs. A very popular feature of the store is the old-fashioned soda fountain, where customers can get a good cup of coffee, mango smoothie or glass of Wisconsin wine.

Sandy LeCoursiere is a familiar local artist who has been on the Tomah art scene since 2002. While her art work is for sale, she is probably more well-recognized for the charities and organizations to which she contributes her creations. To name a few?

“I donate a painting to the Hospital Foundation Golf Outing’s silent auction each year,” she said. She is also a major supporter of the annual Wine into Water event, part of the Jesse Parker Foundation program, and she does the artwork for the Jesse Run theme each year.

For the last few Aprils, Paula has held an art show and sale as a fund raiser to support her daughter’s Chileda school in La Crosse. (The Chileda Institute provides progressive education and personal empowerment to children with developmental challenges.)

Sandy has been a major contributor to Paula’s spring art shows. This year, however, she was unable to exhibit.

“I felt bad that I couldn’t participate,” Sandy recalled.

So, over smoothies a few weeks ago, the long-time friends discussed ideas for selling Sandy’s art, while supporting local, area and national charities and bringing business into Natural Connection.

“I’m excited that Sandy came up with a unique idea,” Paula said.

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Beginning in August and continuing throughout the year, a piece of Sandy’s art will be on display each month at Natural Connection, with a chance to bid on it by patrons and visitors to the store. Fifty per cent of the final bid will be donated to a different charity each month.

The charities earmarked for the year are: Chileda School; Chasing Daylight; Family Promise; Families First; St. Clare’s Mission in Sparta; the Jesse Parker Foundation; Boys & Girls Club; Remedy Event, a La Crosse HIV/Aids Awareness group; Americana Music in the Park in Tomah; Feed My Starving Children; Last Paw Rescue, a national organization to save pets; and ACT, Tomah’s theater group.

The first painting is on display now, and Paula said someone has already put a bid on it.

Asked whether the paintings will have seasonal themes, Sandy laughed.

“I won’t be painting a picture of Santa Claus for the December sale,” she said.

How do the women see this project play out? Paula thinks bidding will be done by people enamored of Sandy’s artistry. Sandy, more modestly, believes that people who might have a special place in their hearts for the mission of Chasing Daylight, for instance, will bid on the picture highlighted the month that charity is featured. Either way, the program hopefully will bring people into the store to enjoy its friendly atmosphere over a “morning Joe,” indulge their interest in original artwork and contribute to worthy charities.

For more information, go to the Natural Connection Facebook page.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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