The Barton Community College Foundation’s 32nd Annual Big Benefit Auction on Aug. 28 gave people a taste of the wine country with its theme, "A Night in Napa," inspiring good times and a generous community spirit. Held at the Highland Hotel and Convention Center, the Big Benefit Auction raises funds each year for academic scholarships and program enhancements at Barton.
Barton’s Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Darnell Holopirek said the Foundation doesn’t have its final reconciliation yet, but she knows the event grossed more than $72,000. "Hopefully, it will be even more than that when the final tally is done," she said.
Donations for the Old Bill Honorarium named in honor of M.E. "Eustace" Marmie came in generously and are still coming in, Holopirek said. The honorarium honored not only Eustace Marmie, but also his children: one daughter, Karen Keller Becker, and two sons, David Marmie and his wife, Sherri, and Jerry Marmie and his wife, Linda, who have continued the leadership that Eustace began long ago in the community.
"The Marmies told us they were willing to match the donations and that’s very generous," Holopirek said. "The people who donated did so to honor the Marmies, and also because of the match. The Marmie family, not just sons and daughter, but also many of the grandchildren attended the auction. I think they felt really honored, but we are the ones who are thankful," Holopirek said.
Donations for the honorarium are still coming in and will total around $16,750, she said. The match will make it close to $34,000, which will fund about 70 scholarships at $500 apiece. "That’s what you call helping students," Holopirek said.
"Each year we try to make the auction better for our guests and at the same time show appreciation for our donors and our purchasers," said Holopirek. "This year everything just fell into place. With 380 reservations, the event drew the largest crowd we’ve had in the eight years I’ve been involved in the auction. ‘A Night in Napa’ was one of those themes that made you feel relaxed when you walked in the door."
Foundation staff members came dressed to fit the wine country theme in aprons made and donated by Trisha Dove and her business, In Stitches. The Highland Hotel and Convention Center provided a "superb" pasta buffet for the theme, Holopirek said. Many of the auction items, including a trip to Napa Valley, were given with the theme in mind, and wine was placed on the tables along with the centerpieces of wine bottles holding candles surrounded by grapes and vines.
One change in the program made a big difference. "Just extending the start of the live auction by one hour gave people more time to look at both the silent and live auction items and enjoy the pasta buffet," Holopirek said. "With that extra hour, it seemed that everybody was ready to settle in and start enjoying the live auction when the time came."
She praised Carr Auction for donating its services and doing an "awesome" job. She also thanked the Foundation Board of Directors, the volunteers, the donors and the people who came out to support the College. Local communities were well represented, she said, but also people came from outside the area, including New York, Kansas City, Texas, Hutchinson, Salina and other places.
"People had invited friends from out of town to join them for the auction, and they had to have done that well in advance, since the event was sold out by our reservation deadline," Holopirek said. The auction’s honorary co-chairs, Cheryl and Robert Rugan brought several new people who said they enjoyed the event so much that they would definitely be coming back next year.
"We have this really important purpose within our Foundation mission, but the auction is a good social event as well," Holopirek said. "One of the neatest things is we just had a lot of new people attending this year and that’s a good thing. It renews peoples’ spirits of philanthropy throughout the community."