A health assessment center for senior citizens moved one step closer to reality last week as a result of the combined efforts of the Central Utah Health Care Foundation, Utah artists and art lovers.

A silent auction of artworks donated by more than 80 artists at the second annual "Celebration of Thanks," held Nov. 10 at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and sponsored by the foundation, raised $8,000 for creation of the health center.The event has a twofold purpose: to give gifted artists and craftspeople an opportunity to create a work of art that expresses thanks for something they are grateful for and to strengthen health-care programs for senior citizens at the three nonprofit IHC hospitals in Utah County (UVRMC, American Fork Hospital and Orem Community Hospital).

In addition to the silent auction of items ranging from quilts to Christmas wreaths and original paintings, the event featured live entertainment and a gourmet buffet prepared by the hospital's food service staff.

Also, the second annual "Celebration of Thanks" Community Health and Welfare Award was presented to Leo Crandall by UVRMC Executive Director Mark Howard. The award is given to a senior citizen who has provided exceptional and selfless service in the community. Crandall is a past president of the hospital's board of directors and was instrumental in the addition of the Medical Tower to the hospital. Crandall is also well-known as the "Jelly Bean Man." Once a year, he passes out bags of jelly beans to patients and employees throughout the hospital.

Paul Schneider, foundation director, had hoped to double the amount raised during last year's "Celebration of Thanks ($5,000), but was still pleased.

"I think for an event in its second year, it was successful. We're still learning, and I think we need to revise our guest list and find the people interested in art," Schneider said. "Some day I hope to make this Utah County's Festival of the Trees (referring to the Christmas fund-raiser held to benefit Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City)."

Much of the event's support has come from the artists themselves, who have been more than willing to share their talent to help senior citizens, Schneider said.

Pat Gayheart, a Springville crafter, said the event provides a boost for artists' self-esteem and the joy that comes from giving to a good cause. Gayheart's donation was given in thanks for "nature's creations, and the freedom to use my talents." Other artists donated works in thanks for everything from peace to the power of a smile.

Potter Robert Faux donated several pottery items in memory of Dr. Lloyd C. Cullimore, who was instrumental in establishing Utah Valley Hospital and who was the first doctor to deliver a baby there.