Boyertown YMCA is biggest winner at 32nd Annual Charity Dutch Auction

Times photos by Karen Degnan Parks Pictured is the crowd in the SunnyBrook Ballroom as they plan their bidding strategies and watch auctioneers Jim Davidheiser and Kevin Zimmers on the stage at the Charity Dutch Auction.

After months of planning, Boyertown Area YMCA board members, staff, and volunteers finally saw all of their efforts come to fruition on March 9 at the 32nd Annual Boyertown Area YMCA Charity Dutch Auction. Although the auction was held for the first time on a Saturday and the venue had changed from a Gilbertsville location to Pottstown’s SunnyBrook Ballroom, YMCA supporters still came in droves, along with new auction enthusiasts who were curious to find out what the event was all about.

As 6 p.m. approached on March 9, volunteers scurried in the ballroom making last minute preparations, while people waited in the hallway in a line that extended from the ballroom doors all the way down the hall to the outside front of the building. By 7:30 p.m. when the live auction began, 260 potential bidders had been registered, an increase over the 246 who registered at last year’s auction. Given that most bidders came with at least one other person, such as a spouse or friend and both used that one number, it was estimated that more than 500 people attended.

The nearly 600 silent auction items were displayed on tables spread out across the width of the first third of the ballroom. The items were divided into six groups and while attendees could bid on any item at any time, each table had a concluding 25-minute interval when people could write in their final bids and at the close, the highest bidder won the item.

Silent auction items included everything from baskets with Tastefully Simple products to medical supplies, artwork, handcrafted walking sticks, collectibles, and gift certificates to area restaurants, museums, and services. Most silent auction items were won for bids of $50 or less, although several items earned bids as high as $90 or more, including a painting by local artist Julie Longacre that brought in $200.

At 7:30 p.m., Boyertown Area YMCA Chief Executive Officer Teresa Geary opened the live auction by welcoming the crowd and thanking them for their support of the Golden Rule Financial Assistance program, which provides individuals and families with subsidies in order to be able to afford memberships, camps, child care, and program fees. Her greeting was followed by a slide show projected on the screen above the stage which showed people of all ages taking part in activities at the Boyertown Area YMCA, thanks to the monetary support of the Golden Rule Financial Assistance program, which is mainly funded by the monies earned during the Charity Dutch Auction.

Auctioneer veterans Jim Davidheiser and Kevin Zimmers again ran the live auction with help from Boyertown Area YMCA board member Wendy Moyer-Drabick, who assisted on stage and presented the live auction items whenever possible.

Pennsylvania State Representative David Maloney also took to the stage to serve as auctioneer for one item, thanking the crowd and complimenting them on their generosity toward the Boyertown Area YMCA, “I just want to say thank you again…Everything we do in Boyertown is always the best.”

Live auction items included trips to Florida, tickets to Phillies games, hot air balloon rides, baskets of wines and gift cards, musical instruments, autographed sports memorabilia, and a variety of Boyertown Area YMCA lifetime memberships.

Live auction items were won for a low of $22 for a plate of hot wings delivered from Spunktown Tavern to a high of $3,200 for a Boyertown Area YMCA lifetime membership.

Overall, the event raised $58,986 for the Golden Rule Financial Assistance program, the highest total ever in all three decades of the auction, exceeding this year’s goal of earning $36,000 by more than $20,000.

“It’s very overwhelming because we never expected to raise that much, but it’s so exciting and we’ll be able to do a lot with that money,” explained Kim Slonaker, Boyertown Area YMCA Daniel B. Boyer Center Executive Director. “We had a lot of good supporters there who believe in the cause and were willing to open their wallets to the support the community.”

First time Charity Dutch Auction attendees Joanne Bauer of Pottstown and friend Pat Moyer from Stowe were glad they came to the event and plan to attend again next year. “It was great. I had a delightful time,” shared Bauer, while Moyer continued, “It was different, really nice.”

While there was a lot of concern about the changes in this year’s auction, the more than 75 volunteers who planned, organized, and ran the auction are now celebrating a job well done and looking forward to more success next year.

As Geary explained, “Change is a beautiful thing. We had the opportunity to change the venue, the day of the event, and the name of the event, but these changes were facilitated by the many hard-working volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure all aspects of the event ran smoothly. We had tremendous support from more than 390 donors who donated more than 700 items to our auction and by those who came out that night to socialize, bid and hopefully get some treasured items to take home with them. All these things coming together truly helped propel us to our greatest success in the 32-year history of our Charity Dutch Auction. Thank you everyone for your support!”