CHAMPAIGN — Gretchen Potter's many hats once kept her granddaughters entertained, and now they'll be put to use helping raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Potter, of Champaign, has 500 hats, and she'll be bringing 50 of them to the society's Mad Hat-ter Tea Party fundraiser set for Sunday at Big Grove Tavern, 1 E. Main St., C.
Tickets are available for $10 in advance and $15 at the door for two tea parties that afternoon, at 12:30 and 3:30.
Both will feature tea and coffee, sandwiches, dessert, a fashion show and Potter's hats modeled by Girl Scouts and cancer survivors, said Champaign County Relay for Life chairwoman Jill Rannebarger.
Relay for Life is a major American Cancer Society fund- raiser held in June. All proceeds from the tea-party fundraiser will also benefit the society, Rannebarger said.
Potter said her hat collection started with three hats she borrowed from a neighbor to keep her visiting granddaughters from being bored.
Then she became hooked on collecting hats, she said.
Over 15 years, she's accumulated a roomful of them, with some dating back to 1896, she said.
But Potter doesn't just keep her hats stored away. She loads them up in her car and puts on about 20 hat shows a year, she said.
"I decided I needed to give back to the community," she said.
This will be her first time taking her hats out to benefit the American Cancer Society, she said.
She and Rannebarger became acquainted through Rannebarger's Girl Scout troop, she said.
"Her troop and my hats did a lot of hat shows," she said.
Then, Potter said, her own brother died of cancer recently.
The tea party Sunday will also feature a fashion show by Dress Barn and Maurice's, Rannebarger said.
A photographer will be on hand, and there will also be a raffle conducted for several items, she said.
In addition to individual ticket sales, table sales are available for $35 for a table of four, $50 for a table of six, and $70 for a table of eight.
Tickets are available through Dress Barn, or those interested can call Rannebarger for at 979-1504 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .