As Chintimini Wildlife Center staff and volunteers brainstormed fundraising options over a brew more than five years ago, it came to them: develop an event around a wildlife-related annual celebration.

At its north Corvallis refuge, Chintimini has for the past 23 years provided rehabilitation services to more than 17,000 injured and orphaned animals. Many such animals are returned to the wild upon recovery, but some remain at the center and become ambassadors as part of Chintimini’s community education program.

And that includes injured squirrels.

So, National Squirrel Appreciation Day fit the bill, and starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Chintimini will hold its fifth annual fundraiser of the same name at the bar where the idea originated — Squirrel’s Tavern at 100 S.W. Second St.

String band Wild Hog in the Woods will entertain as participants have a drink, bid in a silent auction, enter a raffle, and enjoy the antics of a group of lively Chintimini volunteers who organized the event.

“They named themselves the Squirrely Girls,” Chintimini director Jeff Picton said. “They are young, cute women with high energy — they wear tight T-shirts and really are a hoot. People get a kick out of it.”

For this fifth year, a costume contest has been added; people who attend are invited to dress like the celebrated furry-tailed rodent — or as the bar’s owner, Greg “Squirrel” Little, who got his nickname in college. Those who know Little, Picton said, are familiar with his signature head bandanna.

Money for Chintimini will come from sales of beer donated by Calapooia Brewing, Oregon Trail Brewery and Squirrel’s Tavern, as well as the sale of a specialty rum drink, Spicy Squirrel Cider.

Last year’s event raised nearly $3,000, which helped to build a new squirrel rehabilitation facility at Chintimini.

The next big step for Chintimini will come this summer, when Picton plans to open the educational site to the public. Chintimini has been developing a 4.5-acre addition to its property since 2006. It will enable the nonprofit to expand its educational offerings, such as children’s summer camps and adult lecture series.

The majority of the nonprofit’s operating funds come from donations from community supporters.

“That’s mostly our bread and butter,” Picton said. “That’s why we’re trying to open this place up — so we have more visibility.”

IF YOU GO 

WHAT: Fifth Annual Squirrel Appreciation Day, Chintimini Wildlife Center fundraiser

WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Squirrel’s Tavern, 100 S.W. Second St.

COST: No cover charge.

Information:

Reporter Canda Fuqua can be reached at 541-758-9548 or canda.fuqua@lee.net.

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