RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (The Palm Springs, Calif. Desert Sun) -- As a farewell gift to the area they called home, the family of Gerald and Betty Ford will allow an estimated 1,000 personal items to be auctioned for charity.
The belongings - which once graced the Rancho Mirage home of the former president and first lady - include photographs, golf equipment, kitchen gadgets, furniture, suitcases and even decorative storage trunks.
Details of the auction are still being finalized, but organizers expect it will be this fall in the Coachella Valley.
Proceeds will benefit three organizations the Fords supported: the Boys and Girls Club of Coachella Valley; St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert; and the Betty Ford Center drug and alcohol treatment center in Rancho Mirage.
"It is part of their legacy," daughter Susan Ford Bales said of her family's desire to give back to the desert.
"This will be the final, last donation to the valley. This was their wishes."
The Fords moved to the Coachella Valley after leaving the White House in 1977, and for nearly three decades, the first couple shared a home in Thunderbird Estates in Rancho Mirage.
After the president died in December 2006, and again after Betty Ford died in July 2011, the Fords' staff and their four children spent countless hours sorting through personal property and historic mementos to decide what would be sent to the presidential library and museum, which are in Michigan.
The Fords' home and some belongings sold for $1.675 million in March 2012.
Bales said she and her brothers made six treks to the Coachella Valley, spending days going through storage units.
"It's taken us a year and a half to go through everything. We have now put our hands on everything," she said. "There's just so much stuff for four children."
The items up for auction have been cataloged but are being kept in storage until a professional auctioneer is consulted, according to Jim Ducatte, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Foundation.
In 2007 - the same year the Fords' Beaver Creek, Colo., home was sold - more than 500 items were auctioned off for charity.
Ducatte estimates the desert charity auction will include almost twice as many items. And he hopes it will raise at least the $200,000 that he said was raised in Colorado.
More than 50 items - including a presidential seal rug used at the Ford's Rancho Mirage estate - were up for grabs in an auction last December. The proceeds benefited an expansion of the presidential museum in Grand Rapids.
"This isn't the kind of thing that happens every day," Ducatte said of the desert auction.
"We think there will be a large interest in these items."