HUNTINGTON WOODS — It’s hard to believe that an event the magnitude of the Huntington Woods Men’s Club service auction could continue to grow, but it may have just experienced its most successful year ever.
The 32nd annual auction, which also serves as a giant fundraiser for the Huntington Woods community, was held at the Huntington Woods Recreation Center March 23. According to Men’s Club president Scott Kube, the event generated more than $135,000 in gross revenue, the highest total in its history. Kube also expects it to set a record for net proceeds once the club’s final bills are tabulated and paid in the next few weeks.
“I can’t thank our members enough for all their hard work in making this event possible,” he said. “We sold out all of our tickets in advance once again this year. We had even more gifts up for bid than last year, and we were able to hold an online auction for the first time. This was our biggest year ever for advertising, too.”
The four-hour, open house-style auction was attended by more than 750 people, who enjoyed food and beverages donated from local restaurants for a cost of just $15 per ticket. Guests were treated early in the evening to music from orchestra students in the Berkley School District, while later on, the Berkley High School drum line created excitement when it marched through the crowd.
The event featured hundreds of items up for bid, ranging from parties, vacations, golf outings and a full kitchen renovation to sports tickets, music memorabilia, gift certificates and electronic gadgets. Guests could bid on some items online beforehand, while the rest were available during the evening via the silent, live and “almost live” auctions.
“The auction is almost like Huntington Woods’ Oscars party,” Kube explained. “It’s the first big event of the year where people can get out of the house and socialize with their friends and neighbors. A big part of its appeal is that it truly has something for everyone, so we get people from all over the area who attend every year.”
Club member Alex Cooper agreed.
“This is the biggest social event of the year in Huntington Woods, so a lot of people really look forward to it,” he said. “It was so much fun being one of the guys greeting people at the entrance on Saturday. Everyone really seemed to be full of energy and enthusiasm when they were coming through the doors.”
Founded in 1975, the 125-member Men’s Club has generated more than $1.35 million to enhance and beautify the Huntington Woods community. Last year, the club donated $60,000 to help revive a citywide tree maintenance program that had been dormant for more than a decade, while in 2010, it contributed the same amount toward the purchase of 64-gallon, single-stream recycling carts for every home in the city. Other recent projects have included installing solar panels on the roof of the Huntington Woods Recreation Center, renovations for the community pool, repairs to the Rec Center bleachers and remodeling the kitchen at the Huntington Woods Public Library.
“The auction is a really fun and effective fundraising machine for us,” Cooper pointed out. “What’s really nice is that we can help pay for projects that the city would not be able to afford on its own. These are things that help improve our community, and they’re a big part of what makes Huntington Woods such an attractive place to live.”
This year, the Men’s Club will be donating $65,000 of the proceeds from the auction to the Burton Community Park playground improvement project. The $440,000 endeavor includes installing a sustainable, cutting-edge playscape at Burton Elementary School that will last for up to 50 years, as well as sprucing up the surrounding basketball courts and other play areas. It will also feature the construction of an outdoor pavilion and classroom in memory of Maureen Simon, a beloved former first-grade teacher at Burton who passed away suddenly in May 2011.
The existing wooden playscape was built by hand by a group of Huntington Woods residents — including Kube and Cooper — as a gift to the community in 1994. However, over time, the structure has gradually begun to deteriorate. Issues of safety and handicap accessibility have become increasingly problematic, as have wood splinters and infestations of small animals and insects.
“It’s just time for a change over there,” Kube said. “That playground is falling apart and needs some major improvements. Our membership selected it as our project this year, and a big reason for that was because of how many people it can impact. Burton is the most centrally located park in the city, and it’s definitely the most widely used.”
Cooper believes that the park is “a huge part of the Burton school experience.” He recalled how hundreds of Woods residents came together to construct the current playground over a long weekend 19 years ago, and how that project represented Huntington Woods at its finest.
“This new effort has that same nice community feeling about it,” he said. “It’s going to be like ‘Extreme Makeover: Playground Edition’ when it’s finished, and it’s definitely a very worthwhile cause. That playground is all about kids and fun and smiles and laughter — how could you not want to support something like that?”
For more information about the Huntington Woods Men’s Club, go to www.hwmc.org.
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