For almost a quarter of a century, the Hay River Playschool Auction was very popular in the community and raised tens of thousands of dollars each year.
However, that fundraising event was last held in 2017 and the playschool has since closed.
Now, a new auction has been created to fill the void, and to continue to raise money for education.
The appropriately-named Auction for Education will be held May 4.
It has been jointly organized by the Parent Action Committees (PACs) at the four schools in Hay River – Diamond Jenness, Harry Camsell, Princess Alexandra and Ecole Boreale.
“We asked the Hay River Playschool if we could take over this event to continue raising money for the youth of Hay River,” said Jill Morse, one of the auction’s organizers and a member of the PAC at Diamond Jenness Secondary School. “Because it’s such a huge undertaking, we went in on it all four PACs.”
The Auction for Education doesn’t have a fundraising target for its first year.
“I know that the Playschool Auction in the past they made between $22,000 and $60,000,” said Morse. “We would be tickled pink even if we raised $40,000…. That would be incredible.”
The money would go to numerous things to help the schools and the students, such as extracurricular activities, field trips, cultural travel clubs, special needs programs, music programs and musical instruments, sports, travel to tournaments, and more.
“This is a great opportunity because it’s been so successful in the past with the Playschool Auction,” said Morse, noting that members of the PACs also helped out with the Playschool Auction in the past when their children were attending.
She noted that between 10 and 16 members of the PACs have been showing up regularly to meetings to help organize the new auction.
The licensed event will take place upstairs at the Royal Canadian Legion. It will begin with a cocktail hour from 6-7 p.m. on May 4 and continue with a live auction and silent auctions from 7-10 p.m.
“We can fit 200 people comfortably in there without being overcrowded,” Morse noted. “Our licence says we can have 300, but we decided to just go with 200 so that everybody’s comfortable.”
She noted the auction will feature about 140 items up for bids, ranging from donations from businesses and individuals to art from students.
The auction will also feature the draw in a raffle, which has a top prize of a $10,000 shopping spree.
Tickets to the auction are $20 each and are available at Ring’s Pharmacy, La Dee Dah Boutique and Taylor & Company.
The auction will be followed by a dance from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and tickets to the dance only will be available for $10 each.
The idea to hold Auction for Education came from Lynnette Walters and Nicole Klause, members of the PAC at Princess Alexandra School, who had been talking about the Playschool Auction and how it was an incredible event that the town supported so well.
“We felt that it would be sad to lose that,” said Walters. “People looked forward to coming out to an auction in May. So me and her talked about it and we got a group of people together. We really think this is such a positive thing to do for our four schools.”
The theme of the first Auction for Education is ‘Northern Lights – Lighting the Future’.
Morse said that Chief Sunrise Education Centre on the Hay River Reserve was contacted about participating in the auction, but the school does not have an active Parent Action Committee.