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‘Bids for Kids’ Fundraiser Rates as ‘Best Ever’

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The EverGreen RV table makes a bid during the auction

The EverGreen RV table makes a bid during the auction

Led by strong support from the RV industry, the 14th Annual “Bids for Kids” Dinner & Auction fundraiser May 3 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame on the northeast side of Elkhart, Ind., “exceeded all expectations,” according to organizers for what has become one of the industry’s key annual social affairs.

“It was the best auction event we’ve ever had,” said Michilah Miller, director of development and special events for the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen. “I woke up this morning and driving into work — it’s just so surreal. It’s overwhelming.”

In recent years, the auction has enjoyed plenty of success due largely to the growing allegiance of the RV industry and, in particular, the leadership of Jason Lippert, CEO of Elkhart-based Lippert Components Inc., who has championed the cause of getting kids off the streets as chairman of this year’s fundraiser. ”It far exceeded our expectations,” Lippert told RVBUSINESS.com “It’s a big production. This was the 14th year for it and I’ve been involved for the last seven, and it just keeps getting bigger every year.”

Lippert credited the dozens of people and volunteers behind the scenes helping to put on the fundraiser in addition to the sponsors, donors and attendees. Presenting sponsors include Lippert Components, Consolidated Metals Inc., HSM (Hickory Springs Mfg.), Genesis Products Inc., Lakota, Augusta RV, Wildman Business Group and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Miller added her thanks to everyone in the RV industry, as well as the community at large, for their generosity on behalf of area youth. “I am still humbled and honored that the partnership of sponsors, donors and bidders comes together to help the kids,” she said.

The Boys & Girls Club of Goshen services 1,100 kids annually with an average of 360-plus coming in daily for after-school snacks, hot evening meals, tutoring and harmless supervised fun. Some are from families employed at RV firms and many more aren’t directly connected to any business or industrial sector.

“What I want to make sure you guys know tonight is that your presence here reminds us and tells our 1,100 kids that they’re not alone, that we’re part of this amazing team, that we’re in this together,” said Adrienne Penner, associate executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, standing at a podium in the middle of the auction crowd. “At the Goshen Boys & Girls Club, we have a number of kids who are facing challenges.

Jason Lippert served as chairman of this year’s fundraiser

Jason Lippert served as chairman of this year’s fundraiser

“Some of our kids are the third or fourth generation of serious poverty,” she continued. “Some of our kids are third or fourth generation of illiteracy. Some of our kids are dealing with having been wronged by somebody, somewhere, at some time. Some of our kids are just trying to figure things out, and they need a place to do that. Maybe they don’t have that at home. We need to be that place. You guys make that possible. Your presence here tonight lets us know that you stand with those 1,100 kids. You’re telling 1,100 kids that they’re exactly what they need to be. Thank you for that.”

Approximately 55 live auction and 100 silent auction items were sold off by professional, Florida-based, fundraising auctioneer Neil Saffer, while area sports personality Vince Turner served as master of ceremonies. And a number of live auction items went for relatively sensational prices, with some being sold twice. That’s what happened with the “Jerome Bettis Golf Experience at Crooked Stick in Carmel,” which was gaveled with the former Notre Dame and Pittsburgh Steeler – better known as “The Bus” – in attendance at the spring auction. It happened again when auctioning off the “Backyard Barbecue with Live Musical Entertainment by Blammo.”

In fact, the monetary value of one auction item, the “Design a Date with a Private Jet,” actually tripled when one of the original two winners of the private jet junket — a gift from John Hull and Brian Hull of Aircraft Charter Services — donated it back for a third time. The “Design a Date” included a round trip in a private jet for up to seven people to anywhere east of the Mississippi – up to four and a half hours total distance – and included pilot fees for two days and the ability to purchase a trip extension.

Among the other items gaveled on May 3:

• 2014 Notre Dame football season tickets

• A “Backyard Seafood Bake for 20” served by Chef Sean Kelly

• “Food, Fun and a Limo for Eight to Café Navarre in South Bend”

• Two passes with hotel reservations to the Telluride Film Festival

• A week’s stay in a high-rise, beach front condo in Naples, Fla.

• Pit passes and a pace car ride during NASCAR’s Brickyard 400

• Four VIP tickets to a June performance by the Dave Matthews Band

• Wrigley Field box seats for 15 for an upcoming Cubs-Cardinals game

• Four front-row seats to a Katy Perry concert in August in Grand Rapids, Mich.

• A seven-night stay at Hawaii’s Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas

• A hog roast for up to 200 people courtesy of Goshen’s Dana J’s Deli

• An 11-week-old registered female Yorkshire Terrier (spaying included)

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