On December 8, 2010 NNJR-PCA held its annual charity auction at the stately Villa in Mountain Lakes, NJ. This year’s beneficiary was Somerset Hills Learning Institute, 1810 Burnt Mills Road, Bedminster, NJ. For those of you not familiar with the institute, the school provides instruction, treatment and support for preschool and school age children with autism and their families.
This year we were again lucky to have use of the large ballroom at the Villa. This is highly desirable due to the large amount of donations (over 400 items), as anyone who attended past auctions in the smaller room can attest. Having the big room allowed us plenty of space to properly display all the great items donated by so many generous businesses, members and friends. We also had the benefit of plenty of on site parking so as not to have a need for the valet parking service that is often required when multiple events are held at the Villa.
With the economy still in the doldrums and not knowing what position businesses and individuals would be in to donate, we decided it would be best to start solicitations earlier this year. We also decided to expand the number of businesses that we sent letters to, as well as expanding the variety. This led to a large number of items not seen at last year’s event such as sporting event tickets, season ski passes and NYC cruises to name a few. Two weeks after the letters went out, we started the process of following up with phone calls to all recipients of our auction announcement letter. We were pleasantly surprised by the positive responses we got from many businesses that did not donate last year and committed to do so this year. The task was also made much easier this year as Craig Ploetner, our Concours chair volunteered to help with the phone calls. He did a great job for us. He was even able to convince several businesses that had never donated to do so.
On auction day we began the preparation process by loading our truck and car with the donations. We were able to get everything from our house to the Villa in one trip since we had made a run the evening before. Upon arriving at the Villa, we found Anne Foos and Jim Moore already hard at work with the Villa crew setting up the room. Club President Bob Michaelson and Dom Millano arrived moments later. Dom’s SUV loaded with what would turn out to be some of the events most exciting items, including a Jump Suit worn by one of the members of the Porsche pit crew at Lemans. This being our second time doing the auction, we felt it would make for a better showing by grouping like items together instead of by price range. Along with this we made signs to hang on the table number stands to better direct people to what most interested them. We felt this would make it easier for attendees to be sure they did not miss anything. If you attended, we hope you found this to be true.
During the next hour the remainder of our helpers arrived and we began the task of sorting, grouping and setting up our display tables with the goodies received prior to the auction. Many more donations would arrive later as friends and members began to filter in and we would need to process these as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to start on time. This process was handled in a most efficient and timely manner with the aid of Sachi and Jessica Higa as well as Cindy Cristello who processed the donor vouchers. We also were aided at the front table by Russ Struck manning the credit card machine, having picked it up from SHLI for us and getting instructions on its use. Next we had bankers Craig Mahon, Dennis Thovson and Marlys Thovson, followed by registrars Stu French and Al Tafro. Lastly we had Howard Mintz and Walter Mann handling Gold Card Sales. The process being mostly complete by 7pm; it was preview time. Attendees had an hour to circulate amongst the huge selection of items that ranged from Automotive Detailing products to Xmas items and everything imaginable in between. While this was taking place Kristin Hassett circulated amongst the crowd selling 50/50 tickets with much success.
Shortly after 8pm, Dr. Kevin Brothers, Executive Director of Somerset Hills Learning Institute spoke to the group on the work they do at the institute and its benefits to the students and community at large. After this it was time for Auctioneers Russ Struck and Bill Gilbert assisted by Cindy Cristello, Ann Foos and Knute Hancock to begin the Main Event of the evening. With Russ working one end of the room and Bill at the other, the process went quickly and efficiently and by shortly after 10pm the last prize was auctioned off. I it was now time for the 50/50 and Gold Card Raffle. First the 50/50 drawing was held and Anne Foos was the winner. Anne very generously donated her entire winnings of $359.50 to SHLI. Next we held the Gold Card drawing. With Kaila Kane drawing the winning tickets, Mike Berman took home the big one (GOLD CARD) and Wolfgang Konkel won the second place prize (Silver Card). The Gold Card has an estimated value of $4850 and the Silver Card a value of over $2500. While all this was taking place Nick Cristello, Will Gentilello, Justin Mozolewski and Maximo De La Cruz handed out the Goody Bags. These contained items such as donor discounts on their products, car care products and olive oil.
For those of you who missed this truly memorable event we will give you a few reasons to put it on your calendar for next year. Here are some of the great prizes we had along with the lucky winners, Jump Suit worn at Lemans by Porsche pit crew member (John Vogt), two season passes to Camel Back Ski Resort (Steve Richmond & Bill Bloomfield.), Original Porsche GT3 Acrylic on wood painting by Anthony Mezza (James Steiniger), Escort 9500ix Radar/Laser detector (Tony DeCicco), Porsche Trolley Suit Case (Diana Haselman), one set of Pirelli Tires (Howard Medow), New York Harbor Cruise (Mauro Matos and Bill Bloomfield.) and one William Schraft custom designed 18K gold & sterling silver ladies bracelet (Jake Priber). Enough temptation for anyone in our opinion not to miss next year’s auction.
On behalf of NNJR-PCA, Charity Co-Chairs Akemi & Murray Kane and Somerset Hills Learning Institute, we would like to thank the following people not previously mentioned in this article, all of whom helped make this years auction the great success it was, Tom Murray, Shirley Hancock, Anthony Cristello, Hanks Menkes, Rich Penta, Gary Koupf, Tom DePascale, Tom Iervolino, Mike Yura, Ken Ernsting and Kathy Gilbert. With all of your help we were able to raise over $17,000 as of the writing of this article. We are expecting one more significant donation, so we expect the final total to be very close to $18,000.