There’s more than just goods on the block
Plenty of goodwill on display at charity quilt auction that’s a major fundraiser for Elmira District Community Living
AN ELMIRA NON-PROFIT THAT provides services for residents with intellectual disabilities now has an additional $100,000 for its work thanks to last weekend’s charity quilt auction.
It’s the third straight year the popular event has topped six figures in its fundraising efforts for Elmira District Community Living (EDCL).
The auction has been a significant generator of funds for the organization for 44 years.
Final numbers from last weekend are still being tallied, but there was a strong turnout to bid on the dozens of quilts, furniture, homemade desserts, toys, and a wealth of other new and used items on offer, noted Elmer Brubacher, one of the organizers.
He said the effort relies on professional auctioneers, clerks and a host of other people volunteering their time to support EDCL.
While the agency receives a baseline level of support for its work assisting people with intellectual disabilities and providing them housing, the organization has relied on the annual charity auction for years to augment its budget.
“We would be a mere shadow of ourselves without the work that the quilt auction does and the money that it generates and provides,” said executive director Greg Bechard.
The money raised has gone towards the purchase of wheelchair-accessible vans, for instance, which Bechard explains isn’t covered by their government stipend. The vans are what let many of the people supported by EDCL get out into the community. Besides that, maintenance work on the EDCL’s group homes, are another expense not often covered by the government, he added.
“It assists with sending people to summer camp. The people we support live on a pension and so don’t have a lot of excess money, and so we assist people with camps,” said Bechard of the extras the money supports.
“We buy special equipment for our homes, lifting devices, specialty bathing equipment. We do larger renovations, we put additions on some of our homes – and again, with no funding from the government of Ontario, so it enhances the quality of life for the people that we support.”
Bechard also emphasized that none of the money raised would go towards paying staff salaries – the beneficiaries of the charity are the EDCL tenants.
The auctioneering was spread out over two days, with the silent auction starting Fri- day. Also Friday evening was the BBQ beef brisket dinner, as well as an open market of home-made, locally grown foodstuffs.
The silent auction was set up mostly for miscellaneous items such as toys, sports equipment and other treasures, but keen eyes could also browse the 100 or so quilts up for live auction the following day, as well as the donated furniture.
Starting Saturday morning, the auctions began at the Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative, first with the general goods, then the furniture and, finally, the quilts themselves, which, it’s fair to say, were in high demand. Some of the quilts went for as high $1,450, said Brubacher.
Not to be outdone, the desserts pulled more than their fair share at the auction. In between each lot of quilts, a pie was up for auction just for a bit of fun, he said. That effort raised about $4,000.
“We had one pie that was redonated three times, so it was sold four times,” notes Brucbacher. “That pie probably sold for $1,200-$1,300 total.”
While the charity is held to raise funds for the EDCL, the event itself is organized by a small group of volunteers on an auction committee. Brubacher is the co-chair for this year’s committee, along with his wife Mary, as is customary for the chairs. He has been involved in the EDCL’s work with the intellectually disabled for years.
“I guess my heart goes out to those people, and that’s the only thing that keeps us on this committee. That’s the only thing that keeps us on that chair. I guess we’re here to try and raise as many funds as we can,” he said before the event.
“About 20 years ago we got involved with helping out at this auction, and then I was selected to come on to the EDCL board. So I served on the board for six years for the EDCL, and in that time we were asked to come on to the committee.
“Two years ago, for the first time, we raised over $100,000 in about 24 hours,” he said, though noting that some cash donations were received before and after the event. That $100,000 figure was surpassed again last year, and the hope is to continue that trend.
For Bechard, the success of the auction is proof of the local community’s goodwill.
“The generosity and the hard work of the committee and the volunteers and the generosity of the community to support us historically and right through to today is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it in any community I’ve worked in,” he said.
The 44th Elmira Charity Quilt Auction held over the weekend raised more than $100,000 for Elmira District Community Living .