Kids Bring Auction Patrons Back To Basics
This year's Boys and Girls Club Auction theme was black and white and when the party was over, the hosts were really happy at how their guests helped put them in the black.
"It went really, really well," said Jim Ventress, the club's Chief Professional Officer. "We didn't have as many people as we normally do, which is a sign of the economy. But the people who did come were spending. We're figuring it will be over $200,000 net."
This year's event was a sea change for the charity that serves more than 3,000 young people in the Santa Clarita valley. This was the year that the Club went back to basics, to remind the guests just who was benefiting from their generosity.
"The entertainment was done by the kids from the club," Ventress said. "We had kids from the talent show and Hawaiian dancers from Val Verde and Sierra Vista clubs. One of the young ladies sang 'Amazing Grace' and I heard people in the crowd just feeling it."
He said looking around, people were singing along with the musicians and many were moved by the children's performances.
"They got a great ovation," Ventress said. It reminded everybody what they were supporting. It was time to bring it back in."
Another change was eliminating the "Buy It Now" option that allowed a guest to come in and pay an inflated price to take the item off the Silent Auction list.
"We heard over the last couple of years that people would get their catalogs and circle the items they wanted to bid on and looked forward to bidding when they got here," Ventress explained. "A lot of people said by the time they arrived, everything they wanted to bid on was gone and it took the fun out of the auction. We wanted to put that back in."
While the number of both live and silent auction items was down, the amount earned by the remaining 50 live auction items was encouraging.
Magic Mountain's donations earned more than $10,000; items included a picnic for 100 people that included admission to the park and a private party for 50 guests in the landmark Skytower building with appetizers by Salt Creek Grille - both items were offered twice, so they doubled in value instantly.
One lucky bidder will be a guest of the world champion Lakers at courtside during one of next season's game; they will enjoy dinner in the club's private dining room, be welcomed into the Chairman's Room, get a photo with the Laker girls and a basketball autographed by Kobe Bryant. For that, the club got $10,000.
Controversy didn't seem to affect the bidders, as Ventress said. "We were concerned about Manny Ramirez's bat, but it went for $3,200."
The head table for next year's event garnered $15,000.
"I really think having the kids there helped," Ventress concluded. "We saw that when we put up the Heroes and High Hopes part of the auction."
During the live auction portion of the evening, the auctioneer offers patrons a chance to support a club member for a specified period of time. The annual cost of sponsoring one child for a year is $500. When the auctioneer asked "who wants to sponsor 10 kids for a year," long-time club supporter Richard Sandnes's hand shot up. Four others followed.
"Last year, we got $26,000 for Heroes and High Hopes," Ventress said. "Saturday night we took in $51,000."
Auction profits are considered "unrestricted dollars," which in the nonprofit world, means you can spend them on whatever has the greatest need. Ventress said that this year's monies will go a long way toward staff salaries, vehicle repairs and maintenance, utility costs, supplies and supplementing some of the club's field trips.
"We're all about hope and opportunity," Ventess said.
For more information about the SCV Boys and Girls Club, go to www.scvkids.org