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Aw$um Auction is May 1

by Rick Thomas
| April 16, 2010 9:00 PM

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Aw$um Auction is May 1_2

COEUR d'ALENE - Time to limber up for some limbo. The Commodores, those blue-jacketed volunteers with the Coeur d'Alene Area Chamber of Commerce, are gearing up for the organization's annual Aw$um Auction, its biggest fundraiser of the year.

COEUR d'ALENE - Time to limber up for some limbo.

The Commodores, those blue-jacketed volunteers with the Coeur d'Alene Area Chamber of Commerce, are gearing up for the organization's annual Aw$um Auction, its biggest fundraiser of the year.

"This is a significant contribution to the chamber," said Al Hill, one of dozens of Commodores who will be working the rest of the month to gather donations for the May 1 dinner and auction at The Coeur d'Alene Resort.

Brenda Young, chamber events coordinator, said the goal this year is similar to last year, to raise $120,000 in merchandise.

They are already well on their way, with donations so far including a "Going to college" package that includes a netbook computer and dorm furniture.

ROW is providing a $4,000 four-day package at its Riverdance Lodge, with rafting and other activities.

"The nice thing is we have something for everybody," Young said.

Patricia Richardson is chairing the auction committee.

Among the items: fly-fishing package and once again a "bordello tour" of Wallace that includes an overnight stay in one of the houses once notorious in the Silver Valley city, along with dinner and a melodrama performance in the "Mine, Wine, Dine in the Divine Time" package.

The money raised by the auction helps keep membership dues down, Richardson said.

"They are one of the lowest in the U.S. for (chamber) size," she said.

Many more items will be added, as Commodores work the phones to gather more items. The Aw$um Auction is especially important for the chamber this year, as for the first time in many years the usual summer routine of raffling off a car will be skipped.

That program was discontinued because it was exceptionally time consuming, and netted relatively little cash for the organization, Young said.

But there is still plenty of work for the Commodores to do between now and May 1. Not only do they need to get commitments for items to sell, preparing for the day of the auction some 50 volunteers will put in 12 hours a day for two days decorating all four bays of The Resort's main convention center and setting up for the event.

And when it is all over, they will need to clear it all out and take out all the goods packed in, a project that typically takes until midnight.

In all, 1,200 to 1,500 hours of volunteer work go into the event, Hill said.

"That is significant man-hours," he said. "It is almost a year's worth of labor for a small group of people."

The Hagadone Corp., owners of The Resort and The Hagadone Marine Group, will decorate one of their yachts as "Pirates of the Coeur d'Alene."

Participants are encouraged to dress in appropriate Caribbean style, with prizes for the best costumes.

Tickets for the event, which will include a steak and shrimp skewer dinner or a vegetarian option, are $60, with tables of eight available. There is room for about 400 in the convention hall, and the auction generally sells out, Young said.

Dick Haugen will emcee the program, and Troy Black will be the auctioneer.The activity is always frantic enough that no additional entertainment will be included.

"This group is entertaining enough," Young said.

Lucky, and generous, bidders will have a chance to win items including a yellow Labrador retriever puppy, with a kennel, food, toys and all shots. Wine packages, tickets to two Seattle Mariners games including airfare, hotel accommodations and a brewery tour will also be on the block.

There will also be prize drawings, and at the end of the night a grand prize of $500 will be awarded, but the winner must be present to collect.

Anyone wanting tickets or to donate items can call Young at 415-0110.

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