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Crowd finds deals at Grace Academy auction

March 05, 2006|By MARIE GILBERT

For the past six years, Margaret Jones has marked this event on her calendar.

"I've always loved a bargain," the Hagerstown resident said. "And if you're looking for some great deals, this is the place to go."

Jones was among a large crowd that attended a benefit auction Saturday at Grace Academy.

Proceeds from the event will be used for the building fund, as well as educational programs, said Lynn Wakefield, school administrator and middle and high school principal.

"Tuition doesn't cover all of our expenses," he said. "As the school has grown, so have our needs. This fundraiser goes a long way in meeting those needs."

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According to Wakefield, the auction is one of two major fundraisers the school sponsors each year.

Last year, the auction raised around $20,000, he said.

"The first year we held the event, we made about $12,000," Wakefield said. "We're now in our sixth year, so we've steadily grown."

Wakefield credits school parents, volunteers and area businesses for the auction's success.

"We receive a lot of support from a lot of people," he said. "We're fully aware that none of this would be possible without individuals who have been very generous to this school."

The event featured both a silent and live auction. More than 300 items, ranging from handmade quilts and jewelry to Schwinn bikes and outdoor furniture, were displayed in the school gymnasium.

People also could bid on gift certificates from restaurants, specialty shops and Baltimore museums.

"We've had a fantastic response from the public," Wakefield said. "Every year, our attendance grows. I think people look forward to the auction because they know they can get excellent deals here. Plus, it's a lot of fun."

This year, the event also featured a children's program that included face painting, games and stories.

Children under 16 also had their own table of items that they could bid on, including stuffed animals, books and clothing.

"We wanted the children to feel like they were part of today's activities," Wakefield said. "This is a family function, not just something for the adults."

Jody Jacques, a classroom donations coordinator, said planning for the auction began in November.

"In addition to businesses, the students also became involved in donating items," she said. "Each class raised money and then purchased one item to be auctioned off."

Jacques said she has been a parent volunteer with the auction almost since its inception.

"But I don't think of it as work," she said. "I have three children at Grace Academy and the school has been a blessing to our family. This is my way of giving something back to the school."

Lee Ann Aikens agreed. As a parent volunteer, she spent Friday and Saturday helping to set up tables and organize merchandise.

"But I don't mind," she said. "I'm happy to be a part of this. I have two children who attend this school and we live in West Virginia. This is where we want to be."

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