Donations being gathered for Oaklawn’s 24th annual Benefit Auction

The big hunt is under way as the 24th Annual Oaklawn Hospital Benefit Auction nears and members of the Acquisitions Committee go in search of donations from Marshall area businesses and individuals.

“March 22 is fast approaching, so we’re very happy to see so many generous local businesses and residents getting behind the effort,” said Catherine Yates, this year’s committee co-chair.

“We’ve already received some great new items for this year,” said committee chair Ryan Traver.  “We’ll see most of the classics that have become favorites over the years, but there will be new things, too – definitely something for everyone.”

Several fine eating establishments from the community also are stepping up to the table to share their signature appetizers and “finger foods” with auction participants.

Depending on strategy – and luck – someone will walk away from the auction with something special. Like an exclusive trip to England. Or an unusual – and useful – conversation piece for the “man cave.”

Take, for example, the unusual item donated by Traver’s company, BluFish Consulting – a refrigerator manufactured to resemble an authentic Marshall brand guitar amplifier.

“The Marshall brand name, obviously, is shared with our town,” Traver said. “The fridge was made by the Marshall amp company and all of the parts are brand-new. It uses original but brand-new parts to look like an amp, but it functions as a fridge.”

The refrigerator has a capacity of 4.4 cubic feet. Traver said he believes it could fetch up to $600 during bidding.

“We have a ‘March Madness’ basketball theme this year, and we thought this idea seemed to go right along with it,” Traver said. “This is the kind of gadget you might expect to find in someone’s man cave. So, if someone watching the game is complaining that he can’t hear anything come out of the amp, then you just tell him to open it up, have a brew and be happy.”

Another item up for bid is a seven-day stay in England for two people, valued at $3,200. The trip, which does not include air fare, was donated by Tom Franke of Marshall.

“Oaklawn Hospital is a very important institution in Marshall and we’re most fortunate to have a hospital of that quality in our town,” Franke said. “It’s deserving of our support.”

The vacation may be split among two or three Abacus Hotels – the LeStrange Arms Hotel in Old Hunstanton, Norfolk; Orton Hall Hotel in Petersborough, Cambridgeshire; or the Knight’s Hill Hotel in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. The package includes sleeping accommodations, breakfast, drinks and evening meals.

“It’s a part of England that many tourists don’t visit,” Franke said. “As a result, you get a real feel for what it’s like to meet and be among the English people. It’s off the beaten track, but it’s still an extremely beautiful and interesting area.”

Franke has contributed similar excursions to the Oaklawn auction in past years. Past winners were delighted by the prospect of traveling to a part of the United Kingdom they’d never before considered, he said.

Franke said he counsels the winning bidders about the best sites to visit in the region – such as the cathedral cities of Ely and Norwich as well as stately homes and gardens.

Hundreds of other items for the auction – including dinners, appliances, specialty products, services, gift certificates, excursions and show tickets – are being gathered and catalogued, Traver said. More information about those items will be made available in the weeks leading up to the auction.

The deadline for commitments on donations is Feb. 11, Yates said, adding that it’s important to have commitments in hand early.

Anyone wishing to assist or ask a question about this year’s auction is asked to contact Theresa Shippell in Oaklawn’s Development Department at (269) 789-3942.