KRCC event planned for March 22
SIKESTON - Someone donates an auction item to the Kenny Rogers Children's Center Telethon, someone else bids on it and another person benefits.
It's a circle of kindness which supports an organization that reaches out to help young people with disabilities and their families.
Last year the auction alone brought in $14,600 to the Children's Center.
"The auction kicks off the entire telethon weekend for us, it kind of sets the tone," said Chuck Martin, executive director of the Children's Center.
In the past, the auction was conducted on a Sunday afternoon in a tent outside the Field House. For the past three years, however, it has become an entire evening of feasting and fun inside the Elks Lodge.
This year's dinner/auction is planned for 6:30 p.m. March 22 with Mike McReynolds serving as auctioneer.
"Essentially for a $50 donation people receive a great meal (they can have steak or for those observing lent we will have fish), and then following the dinner we hold the auction," Martin said. "Every penny we raise we appreciate. I try not to sit here with preconceived notions concerning the success or failure of each component of the telethon because when one area's down, another area's up. I think we are all expecting a great dinner auction this year."
In addition to enjoying a good meal and having the opportunity to take home a nice item of choice, it's entertaining to watch people bid against each other, according to those who've become experts.
"If you've ever been to one of these it is a lot of fun," Martin said. "You'll see people who'll bid against one another just for the fun of it. They come knowing that they're going to spend some money and take some items home but half the fun is watching somebody square off against a friend or family member and just run the bid up. I think what a lot of people would tell you they're most pleased to take out the door with them is not that they've had a fun evening but that their generosity will have a positive impact on the life of a child."
"It's a relaxed atmosphere and after you've had time to eat, mingle around and look at the items, the auction begins. It's entertaining, too. A couple of years ago my mother-in-law and I got into a bidding war," laughed Mark Hensley, this year's auction chairman.
Auction items can be anything from gift certificates to afghans to televisions to utility trailers and Hensley and Martin are in hopes people will begin donating them as soon as possible, keeping in mind everything must be in at least four days before the auction. If the individual wishes, the item will be even picked up for them.
The men say the auction's success can be attributed to many things, including the fact that those who come to the dinner/auction each year do so with generosity in their hearts, being more than willing to pay more for certain items just because they know where their money is going.
"They know every penny that is raised from this auction is going to benefit the kids that we serve, so generosity rules the evening," remarked Martin.
"That's one reason why I'm so involved with this," added Hensley. "There are a lot of good charities out there, I'm not knocking any of them, but with this one here, at least I know my money's going to stay right there."
They also believe the Children's Center has been around long enough that people in Sikeston and the surrounding areas are familiar with what it stands for and are willing to help in any way they can.
"After 21 years I think that people have come to know that March means telethon," Martin said. "Because of their generosity and only because of their generosity our Center is able to continue to provide quality pediatric services to children with special needs at no direct cost to their families. The community's support truly makes a difference."
Hensley said what convinced him to be auction chairman this year was his experience in helping with the VIP panel a few years ago and meeting some of the children who receive services at the Center.
"They just touch you in such a way, especially if you you're so fortunate to have healthy kids. These kids are so loving and act like they don't have a major care in the world.
That's what causes you to pay more than you normally would for an item in the auction, you know what it's for. It's the kids, that's what makes this auction so successful," Hensley said.
Leftover auction items will be auctioned at a silent auction set from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 23 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24. The highest bidders will be identified after the auction closes that Sunday.
Those interested in attending the dinner/auction are encouraged to purchase their tickets as soon as possible at the Children's Center at 300 Floyd Ave. or by calling 472-0397.
"If we have someone that is interested in buying tickets and they're at work, believe me, we have volunteers who will be more than happy to run the tickets to them," Martin added with a smile.