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Oaklawn's virtual benefit auction is online through evening of March 4

MARSHALL – Oaklawn volunteers and staffers have vowed to keep an annual tradition alive by bringing community supporters together online for the 31st annual Benefit Auction. 

The health-care organization’s first-ever “virtual” auction – a response to the global pandemic – promises to keep all its participants safe and healthy even as it raises money to help those who’ve been afflicted by COVID-19.  

The goal is to raise funds for regional COVID-19 relief efforts in keeping with the auction’s theme, “Hope for Heroes,” with a goal of $100,000. The funds are to be used to supplement the cost of personal protective equipment, various medical equipment and life-saving technology required for Oaklawn’s staff to combat the ongoing pandemic.

To be eligible to review and bid on donated items, participants may purchase tickets for $25 on the auction website, oaklawnhospital.org/covid-relief-auction. The “silent auction” began online Wednesday, Feb. 24. 

As the virtual event goes fully “live” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 4, it will be accessible at oaklawnhospital.org/covid-relief-auction. The event is expected to conclude by 8 p.m.

“We plan to incorporate at least two interviews during the program, one of which will be with a family member of a Oaklawn-treated COVID-19 patient, as a way of honoring the patient’s memory,” said Jenna Ellis, the health-care organization’s development manager.

Also planned is a “donor spotlight” segment focusing on the long-standing efforts of the Marshall Community Credit Union in support of Oaklawn’s annual auction.

“We’re grateful to Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub because they’re donating a very tempting package to the auction – 52 loaves of their Schuler’s Bread as well as a dozen take-and-bake meals and a wine-and-cheese package,” Ellis said. 

“What’s really interesting and encouraging about the Schuler’s package is that anyone who orders an appetizer platter at the restaurant on the day of the auction will prompt Schuler’s to make a $5 contribution to our event,” she said. “And, when someone makes an order and shows proof of their bidder number, Schuler’s will donate $10. 

“We’re extremely grateful to Schuler’s for doing that,” Ellis added. “It’s another demonstration of how people in our community turn out to support each other in times of need.” 

The live event online will feature pre-recorded videos and some live coverage, including the announcement of raffle winners and views of items displayed at the Franke Center for the Arts as the silent auction comes to a close. No live auction is planned. Those with questions about the event may contact Ellis at (269) 789-7494 or jlellis@oaklawnhospital.com.

Targeted financial donations also are being collected on the website to cover the cost of boxed supplies such as standard masks ($25 donation), disinfectant wipes ($50), hand sanitizer ($75) and medical masks ($100). 

Donations also are sought for air-purifying shields ($225 each), air-purifying respirator suits ($1,200 each), the cost of one day for a patient in the medical/surgical unit ($2,600), the cost of one day for a patient in the coronary care unit’s transition area ($4,200) and the cost of one day for a patient in the coronary care unit ($5,800). 

“It may be surprising to many people how many items of personal protection equipment are used by Oaklawn’s staff to work with COVID-19 patients,” Ellis said. “For one patient alone, the daily numbers show use of eight shields, 55 gowns, 55 pairs of gloves, 55 boot/shoe covers and 55 hair caps. One can see immediately how great the need is.” 

Two raffles will be conducted during the online event, sponsored by BluFish Consulting of Marshall and the Marshall Community Credit Union. Two winning tickets will be drawn, and each winner will be given the opportunity to choose between a Peloton Bike at-home exercise system, a Coleman Powersports Off Road Go-Kart or $1,500 in cash. Raffle tickets are available on the website for $5 per ticket or $25 for six tickets.

Packages donated by individuals and regional businesses for the silent auction include an array of specialty products, services and gift certificates.

A favorite vacation package being offered is a seven-day stay in England for two people, valued at $3,000, donated by longtime Marshall resident Tom Franke, who has contributed similar excursions to the auction in past years. 

Franke said past winners were delighted by the visit to a part of the United Kingdom they’d never before considered.

That package may be split between two Abacus Hotels – the LeStrange Arms Hotel in Old Hunstanton and the Knight’s Hill Hotel near King’s Lynn. Both are in the English county of Norfolk. The hotels and adjacent pubs are expected to re-open when pandemic conditions lift. 

“It’s a part of England that many tourists don’t see,” Franke said. “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.” The package doesn’t include air fare, but includes sleeping accommodations, breakfasts, drinks and evening meals.

Franke 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, including the royal estate of Sandringham. More information may be obtained by checking the individual hotel web sites as well as www.abacushotels.co.uk.

Other donated and especially prepared items already in hand include:

– A jewelry package from Hodges Jewelry of Marshall.

– A Weber Spirit E320 gas grill from Darling ACE Hardware of Marshall.

– One year’s supply of hair color and shampoo/conditioner from Design Studio East of Marshall.

– A full membership for one person at the Medalist Golf Club for one year, including unlimited golf, cart use and range.

– A Milwaukee M18 18-Volt Lithium-Ion brushless, cordless combination string trimmer, blower, hedge trimmer and chainsaw from Albion Electric Inc.

– Ten Wild Republic plush animals in a fair-trade African market basket, along with a one-year family membership to the Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek.

– Two Apple Watches.

– A “Cake of the Month” package that provides a dozen cupcakes, a quarter-sized sheet cake or two dozen cookies per month for a year.

– A one-year family membership at the Oaklawn Fitness Center.

– Six sessions of laser hair removal at Oaklawn Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

Over the years, Oaklawn’s annual auctions have raised more than $2 million to provide patient assistance and purchase clinical equipment for direct patient care.