The annual North Marion Dinner and Benefit Auction reached several milestones at Saturdays event, held at Woodburn Health Center.
Not only was the fundraiser closing in on a quarter of a million dollars raised over the benefits seven-year history, according to committee chair Rich Hunt, but it was time for a changing of the guard.
As dinner concluded and the oral auction was set to begin, Hunt announced that the auction committees eight-person board was stepping down to make room for a new generation of volunteers.
At this point, everybody felt it was time for us to move on, Hunt said after the event. Weve been doing this together for so long that we really like each other and none of us can imagine doing this without each other.
One of the primary reasons for the change was that many board members no longer have children enrolled in the North Marion School District. Hunts youngest child graduated from North Marion five years ago. Others are in the same situation or have children ready to graduate soon, leaving many board members without their main connection to the school district.
Without being in the school on a day-to-day basis, involved with your kids lives there, you kind of lose touch with things, said Hunt, who expects the transition to be smooth since the current board will help the new board in an advisory role for next years auction benefit. Its not so much to lead them, but to help them. Its a pretty steep learning curve if youve never done it before. Were not looking for people to step in and do the same thing we did. If someones got a vision of what they want to see happen, our purpose is to help them achieve that. Thats what we want to see happen.
Of course, the current fundraiser model has been a massive success in the previous six years, having raised more than $185,000 since the first fundraiser in 2008. Event organizers were working toward a goal of $50,000 from this years auction, though the exact amount raised was not available at the time of publication.
Last years auction raised $37,135, a personal best for the committee. Those funds were dispersed to the districts four schools for items as big as the senior all-night graduation party ($4,000) and laptops for the primary school computer lab ($3,000), to smaller items such as digital cameras for kindergarten, office supplies for the middle school and a sports marketing banner at the high school all of which cost under $400.
Although there are more requests for funds than the committee is able to disperse, Hunt admits that the most exciting part of the fundraiser is giving out the money after the big event.
We dont know the dollar number yet, but I think we did well, he said. Were looking forward to seeing that little bit, and then the best part of it is giving that money away.
After the funds are dispersed, the board will turn its attention to finding new members to take over. There is a lot of work that goes into the event each year, particularly as it gets closer to game time in April, but Hunt believes the committee can find dedicated individuals to make the transition to the eighth auction in 2015 an easy one.
We had a couple people interested, but nobodys really stepped forward and said they want to do it, Hunt said. Weve got time. Were not concerned. We believe that the right people will step forward.
For more information on volunteer opportunities with the North Marion Dinner and Benefit Auction, contact Rich Hunt at 503-981-8501 or email [email protected] .com.