Ever wondered whether that watch from your great-grandmother has more than sentimental value? Or if that painting you picked up at a yard sale is worth its space on the wall?

The Assistance League of Tucson is offering an opportunity to discover the value of your treasures and help local children at the upcoming Whatz It Worth? fundraiser.

"The idea was to bring to Tucson 10 appraisers who function in the national and international arenas and have inroads and know collectors of these items and museums that may want items," said Heidi August, who is co-chairwoman of the event with Kim Sparling.

This marks the second year for the fundraiser, which was inspired by the popularity of shows such as "Antiques Roadshow," which drew interest from 26,000 people when it visited Tucson in 2007.

"There is huge appetite for this. Older people who are looking to sell their homes or downsize have all of this 'stuff' that their children and grandchildren don't want, so they take it to thrift shops or try to sell it. This gives an opportunity for them to find out what these items are worth," Sparling said.

In addition to providing a needed service, Sparling said Whatz It Worth? offers a new way for the Assistance League to connect with the community and promote awareness about its 400-member volunteer organization and philanthropic programs.

"We wanted something that was affordable and would appeal to the Tucson community as a whole since we are a charity that serves the whole community," Sparling said.

The nonprofit's flagship program is Operation School Bell, which provides new clothing, school supplies and hygiene kits for 3,800 children in need in five local school districts each year. The program has dressed more than 40,000 children since its inception in 1994.

The Assistance League's other programs include Starting Over Supplies, which provides basic housekeeping products, hygiene items and other household goods for people who have left shelters or abusive situations; and Assault Survivor Kits, which consist of clothing and toiletries for victims of sexual assault.

Other programs include Assisteens Helping Tucson Teens, a project of the auxiliary organization Assisteens.

Another auxiliary, Professional Association of Women's Services, provides volunteer opportunities to women in the workforce. A primary source of fundraising for all programs is the Assistance League Thrift Shop, at 1307 N. Alvernon Way, which is staffed entirely by volunteers.

The organization has evolved into a diverse membership made up of varying backgrounds with a common mission to serve the community, August said.

"It has become a polyglot of women from cultural, professional and economic backgrounds."

The women are expecting an equally diverse collection of treasures at the Whatz It Worth? fundraiser, which offers an intimate pre-event dinner with appraisers on Feb. 16 at Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort for $150 per person (includes verbal appraisal of one item). The general appraisal event offers $60 admission for two people and verbal appraisal of two items on Feb. 17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Reid Park.

Last year items appraised ranged from a Civil War rifle and an old Colt pistol valued at $1,500 to a one-of-a-kind Led Zeppelin concert T-shirt valued at $3,500 and a Picasso appraised for more than $120,000.

"We have tons of chairs for people to sit in as they wait, and it is fun to stand in line and see what everyone else has brought. I think that is the best part of the event," Sparling said.

"Once they have been through the line and received their appraisals, people can get a video taken at the feedback booth detailing how much their item was worth or how much it wasn't worth."

Local charities need volunteers / C4

If you go

• What: Whatz It Worth? Pre-event Dinner and Fundraiser - dine with the appraisers.

• When: 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16.

• Where: Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road

• Cost: $150 per person.

• The details: The pre-event party includes a champagne toast, dinner with a nationally or internationally recognized appraiser at your table and a verbal appraisal of one item. All proceeds benefit Operation School Bell and other Assistance League of Tucson programs.

• Tickets: Go to www.whatzitworth.org/preEventParty.html or call 272-2599.

If you go

• What: Whatz it Worth? Antiques Appraisal Event

• When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 17.

• Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way.

• Cost: $60; entrance is by timed ticket only so advance registration is recommended.

• The details: Each ticket admits two people and two items for verbal appraisal. Appraisals for coins will not be offered. Nationally and internationally known appraisers will appraise armor, art in a variety of mediums from several countries and eras, militaria, jewelry, rugs, furniture, toys, tools, porcelain, silver and more.

• For more information or tickets: Go to www.whatzitworth.org/index.html or call 272-2599.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net