It’s Rotary Auction time

Unless you bought this issue of The Jefferson Herald off the counter on Thursday, you’re probably reading it on Friday.

That coincides with the date of the 2014 Jefferson Rotary Auction, which takes place with a steak dinner Friday evening at the Jefferson Elks Lodge.

The annual auction began after the Rotary Club of Jefferson had been conducting its annual chicken barbecue event for many years. For that event, club members would begin early on a Saturday morning by firing up charcoal in large, custom-made, above-ground barbecue pits, then start cooking chicken halves in heavy wire grates set on top of the pit frames.

Cooking would continue through the day. By late afternoon, the cooked chickens would be packaged into boxes with side dishes, rolls and disposable utensils, and at 5 p.m. or so, folks who had pre-purchased barbecue tickets would line up at the St. Joseph Parish Center to enjoy their dinner. Many dinners were also purchased for takeout.

By day’s end, following clean-up of the parish center, Rotarians were pretty beat down by the all-day event.

Most times, the chicken was cooked properly, but there were days when it was somewhat underdone or overdone, disappointing those who had hoped for a decent meal.

And after all was wrapped up, the bottom line showed a net profit of somewhere around $1,500. The funds were used for the club’s civic projects, but they weren’t particularly impressive for an annual project.

Then one day, a Rotarian from eastern Iowa, visiting one of the Jefferson club’s meetings, mentioned his own club’s major fundraising project — a citywide auction, with items donated by individuals and businesses from his community and their acquaintances elsewhere.

Proceeds were several times what the Jefferson club’s chicken barbecue yielded.

It sounded like something that might work in Jefferson.

So the next year, Jefferson Rotarians sponsored their first annual charity auction. It succeeded like gangbusters, was repeated the following and subsequent years, and today it nets some $30,000 annually for worthwhile civic causes.

Rotarians solicit items for the regular auction process and a silent auction, held simultaneously. For the past couple of months, club members have collected items for auction from the lists of businesses and individuals to which they have been assigned.

It’s the generosity of the entire Jefferson community and surrounding donors that makes the event successful. Rotarians and their businesses donate items as well, but without community contributions, the net proceeds would be a fraction of what they are today.

And that goes for those who bid on the items as well.

Each item lists an actual value, but they usually go for a price beyond that, sometimes considerably beyond.

Rotarians have been selling dinner tickets for the past month, and there is no shortage of folks who look forward to the evening of a fine meal with complimentary wine, an enticing list of available auction items, and the fun of a well-run auction with friends.

This year, the highlight item is once again a South African wildlife-observing safari.

Assorted vacation packages will be offered, as well as tickets to plays, musicals and sporting events, a sky-diving opportunity, a wide selection of useful and enjoyable items, foodstuffs, and on and on. Over 80 separate packages will be on the block for the live auction, and over 50 for the silent auction.

Raffles are also featured — eight $250 cash bundles, and a hog raffle as well. Rotarians have been selling raffle tickets for several weeks. You need not be present to win.

There may be a few dinner tickets still available, but they might be sold out by the time you read this column. If interested, contact ticket chair Andy Harland at Don’s Ace Hardware.

The Rotary Auction benefits numerous worthy causes, and many residents, both donors and buyers, have the satisfaction that comes from helping out.

It’s a great community project — and it sure beats cooking chicken all day.

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Address: 200 N. Wilson St.
Jefferson, IA 50129

Phone:(515) 386-4161