The Barton Community College Foundation raised about $65,000 for scholarships and program enhancements at BCC during its 33rd Annual Big Benefit Auction.
About 370 community members attended the auction Saturday at the Highland Convention Center, knowing full well their purchase had a deeper meaning; it might go toward much-needed equipment for an on-campus laboratory at BCC, or perhaps it will help a potential student overcome a financial obstacle to take a big step into the realm of higher education.
Organizers reported Monday that proceeds from the live and silent auctions more than exceeded the goal of $45,000.
The Old Bill Honorarium, a separate scholarship fund built from donations, raised about $16,000 from the crowd. Roger and Mary Lou Murphy, for whom the annual honorarium was named this year, pledged to match that amount.
"It was a great event. A great time was had by all and we appreciate the support of the community," said Coleen Cape, coordinator of fundraising and special events with the BCC Foundation. "We can’t have the event without their support. The people in this community are so generous at heart. It’s really gratifying when the public stands up to support us."
Darnell Holopirek, executive director of institutional advancement with the BCC Foundation, agreed. She said the turnout was on par with last year, but more importantly, the Foundation’s guests appeared to be enjoying themselves.
The theme was salsa and sombreros, which was evident throughout the Highland Hotel Convention Center, from the burritos to Holopirek’s unmistakable hat.
"It’s very important to me that the attendees have a good time while they’re supporting the college," she said. "Everyone seemed to really enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunity to bid on items, and the food was wonderful."
Based on a few observations, Holopirek said she’s optimistic about the event’s future.
"We had quite a few newcomers," Holopirek said, mentioning that the crowd seemed to be populated by a younger demographic. "We hope they come back."