The right mix for a great auction

On Saturday, March 10, at 6 p.m. the B.F. Day Elementary School annual It Takes a Village fund-raising auction takes place on the Adobe campus here in Fremont.

In 1996, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce hosted the first fund-raising auction to cover unmet basic services at B.F. Day. Since then, parents and staff have taken over responsibility for the auction, and they've grown it into an event the PTSA depends on to fund essential programs and a few faculty positions.

Traci Huse, auction chairperson, is a B.F. Day parent and director of the Boys & Girls Club at the school. "All of us together" make the auction successful, Traci explains. A charity auction takes major volunteer effort and - as Traci has shown in the three years she has run the event - creative touches that make it prosper.


Before the event, professional auctioneer Laura Michalek helps Traci with item placement. Hired by B.F. Day, Laura holds a degree in auctioneering. More importantly to Traci, Laura has experience with school auctions and knows how to make them effective, entertaining and lively.

As guests arrive on Saturday, a professional check-in/checkout service facilitates arrivals. The service registers guests and distributes auction numbers. Guests use numbers on their bids, and the service keeps tally so at checkout guests can smoothly pay and depart with their items. Done professionally, a seamless checkout allows guests to leave the event still feeling enthusiastic about the school and their purchases.

After registering, guests stroll along tables lining the halls to the dining room. As they sip cocktails and snack on hors d'oeuvres, they can peruse three separate silent auctions with a wide selection of deals and/or treasures offered.

Charity auctions rely upon donations of trips, products and services. However, the most popular items at the B.F. Day auction remain those created in the classrooms by the children. "The teachers are really dedicated to it," Traci says of the craft projects.

Many parents - artists and craftspersons in their own rights - also donate time to help create art, quilts and planters.

Beyond donated items for sale, Traci orchestrates alternative fund-raising opportunities. During the silent auction, volunteers circulate among guests to sell 100 $25 raffle tickets. The prize is the choice of any one of the live auction items, before it starts.


Inside the dining room - which "only fits 280 people" and has sold out several years running - guests enjoy their dinner. Traci promotes this as a special evening and an opportunity to dress up and have fun. Their caterer serves quality food on linen and china and encourages "the idea that this is a nice event."

After dinner, all guests get their choice of dessert - for a price - in the Dessert Dash. Delicious desserts, donated by local bakeries, parents and community members, stand on display around the dining room. Each table of guests throw in together to bid for first choice of desserts.

When announced, the highest-bidding table sends its selected emissary on a dash (the trick is to already have scoped out your choice), with the second-highest and so on close on their heels.

A plate of Twinkies, or something equally prosaic, sits amidst the delicate pastries and exquisite cakes, and typically goes to the table with the lowest bid.

As guests enjoy delicious delicacies and the conviviality of gathering with others for a good cause, the auctioneer will announce the Fund-A-Need. These bids go directly to past, a part-time music or art teacher. Bidding starts at $2,500, going down to $25, with guests giving as they can.

Held halfway through the live auction, this gives attendees who haven't purchased anything so far and/or don't see anything remaining to bid upon, a chance to give.


This is not just a community event where friends rub elbows, according to Traci. This event raises much-needed funds for the school. Neither a family event nor another tapping of parents' wallets, the B.F. Day auction offers the entire community an opportunity to give to the school.

To order a ticket, gain information or volunteer, call the school, at 252-6010.

Traci hopes people attend the auction to give money, but she knows reality. "People are going to go to the auction for a good time," she said, and luckily, B.F. Day volunteers make it easy to do both.

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