By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction got underway Tuesday at a new location, Pheasant Ridge Golf Club in Gilford, and the volunteers who are the heart and soul of the auction say they're pleased with their new home.
"We're off to a good start. It's been a good first day for us and everyone seems to like the new location," said Sandra Marshall, co-chair of the Children's Auction Board of Directors.
She said that volunteers starting setting up on Sunday morning and after about six hours had the entire set in place.
She said that even though the enthusiasm level is high, there is still a need for more auction items.
"We're a little thin in the back room right now," said John Walker, one of the volunteers, who added that he was confident that donors will be dropping off auction items throughout the week as excitement grows.
Those looking to donate items can drop them off at the Bank of New Hampshire, Franklin Savings Bank, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Irwin Marine and MetroCast. They can also be dropped off at Pheasant Ridge and successful bidders can pick up their items at Pheasant Ridge.
Grace McNamara, station manager for Lakes Region Public Access Television, said that students from the Huot Center are helping out throughout the week, under the direction of Ray Sleeper, Digital Media Arts teacher, and are enjoying the experience of working on a live television broadcast.
It was the decision by LRPA to televise the auction in the 1990s that led to its rapid growth in popularity and fundraising for local nonprofits.
This is the second year that the auction, now in its 34th year, has been under the direction of the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children, a nonprofit corporation which last year took sole ownership of the auction.
Since the first auction in 1982, which was conducted singlehandedly by Warren Bailey of WLNH, the auction had been effectively owned and operated by the radio station and its owners. Last year volunteers, who devoted their time and energy to the success of the event, reassessed the relationship with the station and chose to vest ownership of the auction in a nonprofit corporation, the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children.
The auction has grown to become a major source of funds for local charities and last year distributed $428,7000 to dozens of organizations across Central New Hampshire. More than half of the funds came from the popular Pub Mania event hosted by Patrick's Pub, which will take place on Thursday.
Tony Felch, one of the volunteers, said there are three new teams in Pub Mania this year: Laconia Harley-Davidson, Fusion and the Ladies of the Lake. Thirty teams will compete in a 24-hour bar stool challenge at Patrick's.
For the second year in a row, CruCon Cruise Outlet of Moultonborough is the presenting sponsor of the auction.
The auction will be broadcast live through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 6 to 9 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tune in on 104.9 the Hawk, 101.5 WZEI, MetroCast Channel 12, LRPA Channel 25, or online at www.ChildrensAuction.com.
The “Kinder Choir” from Imaginarium in Center Harbor perform “God Bless America” on the opening night of the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction on Tuesday. (Alan MacRae/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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