(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Although it will be one night shorter, organizers of this year's Rotary Club Auction promise the event will be just as big and better than in years past.
"We thought that, with only two days, we might attract a larger crowd," said Heather DeWitt, this year's Rotary Club president.
The auction will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Aired on SPS Channel 12, individuals call in to place their bid on items.
In another change this year, viewers will notice shorter segments.
"We're condensing it, which will probably help make it more exciting," said Bob Smith, list manager for the auction. "We're trying to make it more efficient, but I don't think there will be a lot of difference in the total number of items offered (compared to other years)."
The shorter segments, organizers said, will hopefully attract a larger crowd.
"By making it come concise, I think it will keep people interested and keep them calling in, trying to meet that deadline," said Jami Geske, a Rotary board member.
She and Smith pointed out, however, that some of the big-ticket items will be offered an entire evening -- or the duration of the auction -- instead of just one segment.
Once again, the Rotarians promise a great selection of items up for bids.
"I think that we have gotten more of a variety of things donated this year -- and the items are of a higher value, also," said DeWitt.
"We've got a lot of excellent items," Smith agreed.
Those include a purebred Shetland Sheepdog, tickets to the Fox Theatre in St. Louis and Redbird Club tickets for a Cardinals baseball game, a Las Vegas trip, a 12 gauge shotgun, airline tickets, a Traeger Wood Pellet Grill, one-year family membership to the YMCA and several gift certificates to area businesses.
"The businesses in town have been very generous," said DeWitt. "It's been remarkable."
Geske said that, to show the club's appreciation, there will be a special sponsorship recognition for business that have donated $150 or more in items. She is working to come up with some commercials to feature those sponsors between segments.
"We've got some very loyal, committed donors who have helped us over the years and continue to contribute to this endeavor," she said. "And we've been fortunate that some of them have really stepped up and gone above and beyond."
Smith also noted the school system is also key to the process. The audiovisual department gives students on-the-job training, as they record and air the auction on the public access channel.
Items donated for the auction will again be published in the Standard Democrat. All items that were turned in by Thursday will be published on Tuesday. Then, a listing of all the items to be auctioned Wednesday and Thursday which were given by Monday, will be published on their respective days, said Smith.
Smith said several bidders return each year. "But there are always new ones, too," he said.
And those involved hope to attract more new bidders this year.
"It's actually a lot of fun," DeWitt said of the auction. "And it's a great way to buy some nice items."
Geske suggested people use it as a form of holiday shopping.
"This is a really great way to do your Christmas shopping and be benevolent at the same time," she said. "But we really like to encourage people not to look at the retail value of the items, because this is for a worthy cause."
Although the auction has also been broadcast online the past two years, that will no longer be an option this year, according to DeWitt. "It was not cost-effective," she said. "We spent more to do it than we took in from it."
Last year, around $8,500 was raised in the auction. "And I'm hoping, obviously, to bring in more," said DeWitt.
The money from the auction and the Rotary Club's other fundraisers is in turn invested in the community.
This year, the club, with a motto of service above self, plans to purchase benches and a new grill for Rotary Park. It also donates to community organizations, grants scholarships to Southeast Missouri State University and plants crepe myrtle trees around town.
"The more that we get from this auction, the better we are able to contribute to our community," said Geske. "It's going to be beneficial to everyone."
It's a good fellowship opportunity for Rotarians. "The entire club participates -- this is our largest fundraiser of the year," said Smith. "And some of the children get involved, and it lets those younger kids get exposure to doing something for the community."
What: Rotary Club Auction
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday
Where: Watch the auction live on SPS Channel 12, then call in to vote. Items available will be published in the Standard Democrat.