A locally based organization that has helped Miami County provide care for its children through referrals, education and other services is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a birthday themed annual benefit auction Saturday, Aug. 22.

Cheers for 30 Years is the theme for the annual fundraising event for Child Care Choices. The nonprofit organization’s office is located at 4817 State Route 202 in Bethel Township near Tipp City.

The celebration event will be held 6 to 10 p.m. at the Crystal Room in Troy. The event features a live and silent auction as well as a 50/50 raffle and musical entertainment. Tickets are also being sold for a chance at a two-night stay at the Inn at Rainbow Hills in Newcomerstown, Ohio, along with a $250 Visa gift card for the trip.

Tickets are available on the organization web site, child-care-choices.org, or by calling the CCC office at 667-1799.

The organization was incorporated in June 1987 by founders including Elizabeth Studebaker, the first director, and Sonia Ewald.

“Child Care Choices is a true community effort. We saw the need for finding out where child care was, to find quality child care and to create more child care,” Ewald said.

The organization was modeled on Action for Children in Columbus. “We had visited and they were very instrumental in showing us how this was done,” Ewald said.

Part of the local secret is involvement from people across the county who helped envision how the program could work for everyone, she said. The program works with child care centers and home providers.

The main function is to make free referrals for childcare, said Judy Owen, current executive director. Around 100 referrals are made a year. “It is everything from women who are frantic finding out their provider is no longer available to an expectant mother who wants to figure out what her options are,” Owen said.

The program has expanded services over the years. “Now we do lots and lots of training and still involve all the communities and lots of volunteers,” Ewald said.

In addition to offering more than 40 workshops for child care providers each year, the organization offers a Story Lady early literacy program and has a Zumba Lady and Yoga Lady.

Betsy Russ became the program director following Studebaker. Russ served in the role for more than 25 years and now is the board chairwoman. “There were lots of people looking for child care,” she recalled.

Many women wanted to get a reference from Child Care Choices, Russ said. “They wanted to get some tips and some ideas for activities because many of them wanted to increase the quality of child care they were offering. They wanted to do more than just park the children in front of a TV set. And, that certainly is what we wanted,” she said.

Owen said the organization collaborates more and more with other entities involved in the early childhood services. It works with counterparts in Montgomery County as well as programs in Miami County such as Head Start, Edison State Community College and Upper Valley Career Center.

This weekend’s fundraiser is a key to the program, Owen said. The benefit provides more than 30 percent of the annual income. “It is really vital to our success,” she said.

Among other sources are grants, donations, the community and the United Ways in Tipp City, Troy and Piqua.

For more information on Child Care Choices, visit the website at child-care-choices.org or call 667-1799.