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Marilla Country Store helping local family pay for unexpected medical bills

Creative thinking results in an online art auction for teenage girl and her family
Posted at 5:57 AM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 10:36:13-04

MARILLA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Marilla Country Store has been around for 169 years.

It is filled with all sorts of things, but determination and creativity might be its specialty.

So, when the ladies working at Marilla Country Store realized the Benzee family was facing unexpected medical bills for their daughter, they knew a fundraiser was needed.

"It is a difficult time to have an in-person fundraiser," said Sandy Grunzweig, owner of Marilla Country Store. "It is certainly not safe."

With in-person gathering restricted, the ladies decided to do an online art auction instead.

"We're pulling together to help a family that is always helping everyone else," said Susan Pundt, worker at Marilla Country Store.

"You don't have a lot of choices so people have to get creative," said Karen Stanley, worker at Marilla Country Store.

"We have an audacious goal," Grunzweig said. "We think Buffalo and Western New York will come through for us."

The Benzee family is well-known in this community.

Husband Dave is a local fire chief, despite having suffered serious injuries in a car accident.

Wife Missy is actively involved in a local church even though she is battling breast cancer.

And 14-year-old Megan, who was adopted from Guatemala, has developed type 2 fibro atrophy, an incurable genetic condition that causes severe pain, escalating weakness, and loss of cognitive processing skills.

"This is a family that is going to need some serious help," Grunzweig said. They are going to have to do some adaptations to their home. They need to travel to see some pretty exclusive kinds of specialists."

The auction is called the "Art from the Heart for Meg" and it features some of Megan's artwork.

80 people have also donated various items for the online auction, including jewelry.

The goal is to raise $50,000 for the Benzee family.

With 20 business sponsors now on-board, the little country store that has helped people for generations is hopeful it can do so again for Megan Benzee and her family.

"There's a lot of great pieces," Pundt said. "There is a little bit of something for everybody."

In addition to the women at the country store, several other community members are volunteering their time to help sort and catalog the auction items (which can be picked up at the Marilla Country Store if you are the winning bidder).

The online auction runs through Friday at 10 p.m.

You can find the auction here.