To say Barry and Monica Bowers have a history with Barton Community College might be a bit of an understatement. Not only did both graduate from Barton in the early ’80s, both were students there when they went on their first date.
“That’s where it all began,” Barry said. Jokingly, the local CPA added, “I got her through accounting class.”
Shortly after getting married in the early ’80s, they attended one of the first Barton Foundation Big Benefit Auctions and have been attending every year since with a group of friends.
This is the event’s 35th year, and the Bowers have stepped up to serve as honorary co-chairs to help solicit gifts for prizes and to promote the auction, which is set for 6 p.m. August 24 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Great Bend. The Foundation looks to raise about $40,000 from its auction each year, which makes it the organization’s primary fundraiser. All the proceeds go toward scholarships and program enhancements at the college.
Tickets will be available for $35 beginning July 22. Coordinator of Fundraising and Special Events Coleen Cape said the cost had to be increased by $5 per ticket this year due to rising overhead. She also said last year the auction used a new venue in the Knights of Columbus Hall, and that it was highly successful thanks to the hard work of the Knights of Columbus volunteers.
The Bowers agreed, and said they are honored to be helping with the annual event, which Monica said serves two functions.
“The fun part is just being with people,” she said of the relaxed but well-organized atmosphere. “We’re having fun and benefiting Barton at the same time. We’re making sure that each student who can be benefited is benefited, and we’re doing it by showing people a good time. They are giving money painlessly and joyfully.”
Barry said it has been entertaining to watch the event transform and take shape into what it is today. It was once a black-tie event, then it took a turn toward informal and laid back at the expo grounds. This year, the theme, “Denim and Diamonds,” underscores the auction’s varied history and guests are invited to get creative with their outfits and donors are encouraged to find a fun way to incorporate the theme into the auction items they choose to donate.
Barry said he would encourage anyone who has not donated in the past to consider it, and listed several reasons why participating in the auction is critical.
“Everyone can do a part for the auction,” he said. “From cash gifts or printed ad sponsors to direct donations of services or items, any business can help out. If you do not get a warm fuzzy feeling about community support, then do it to showcase your business or talent; either motive helps raise funds for the Barton Foundation.
“I feel very strongly about my obligation to give back to my community and try to contribute time and finances to quality projects,” he added. “Barton is an amazing asset to our area and supporting it makes perfect sense to me. The benefits that come from the college far outweigh what little I can contribute.”
For more information, or to donate an item to this year’s auction, contact coordinator of Fundraising and Special Events Coleen Cape at email@example.com or 620-786-1136.