Ok, seriously this is the most fun and amazing fundraiser I’ve ever seen! I sort of remember the WLNH Children’s Auction from when I was a kid, but it was nothing like it is today. I mean nothing like it! And I dare say I’ve never seen anything like it in all my travels.
Here’s a brief history: in 1982 WLNH radio host Warren Bailey created a two-day fundraising broadcast from the WLNH van in front of the Laconia YMCA. He raised $2,100 and collected a number of items to be donated to the “Citizen Santa Fund.” Since that time, the Children’s Auction has grown into a multi-media, multi-event fundraising campaign that runs for five consecutive days in early December. Countless volunteers, local residents and businesses donate thousands of volunteer hours and auction items to this event every year. The Auction has raised over $1.6 million in its 30 years. They out-do themselves every year and last year raised an astounding $330,000. The Auction supports about 20 local charities with the funds raised, all of which work for the benefit of children in our region.
Now that’s impressive, especially when you think about the fact that this is a pretty small community. But that doesn’t even get to the fun parts!
I went down there on Tuesday, which was the kick-off day (it runs through Sat at 2 pm) and it was so cool! There’s a phone bank, you can bid on-line, community members present the items for bid on live TV and radio, high school students run the cameras and lights, and it’s all high-tech now thanks to Meadowbrook’s hard work to create a digital point of sale system that logs and tracks every item donated, bid made, and purchase completed. The whole thing is just too cool.
And everyone is having so much fun! Anyone in the community can walk in and donate an item or volunteer to work at any point during the five-day event. Or you can sign up for Pub Mania, the 24-hour barstool challenge hosted by Patrick’s Pub to benefit the Auction. Pub Mania raised $110,000 of last year’s total.
You have to check it out – go to www.childrensauction.com where you can watch it live streaming (and bid on items). A lot of people here watch or listen to it all day long and get a good chunk of their holiday shopping done. Great deals on some great stuff – it’s all brand new stuff that is donated, nothing used or junk. When I was there I saw no fewer than five brand new riding lawn mowers, some portable DVD players, TVs, and all sorts of toys, gift certificates, tools, and awesome gadgets that will be auctioned off over the course of the week.
I’m seriously on the edge of my seat ‘til Saturday when we find out how much our community raised this year!