Radio auction back on air
Elks revive fundraiser for spray park
When Mike Warholik describes the Elks’ radio auctions of the past, with telephones ringing, bids coming in, and the numbers going up on the chalkboard, the excitement in his voice is plain to hear.
“It’s just like a real auction, except we do it on air,” he says, noting there’s a lot of preparation in the lead-up to the event, which is set to take place again on Nov. 4. But it’s all worth it on the day when things start happening, he said, adding, “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Warholik first heard the Kinsmen organization holding a radio auction while he was in Vegreville for a curling tournament, back in 1975. “As we were driving home, I’m listening to this, and thinking, ‘This is a wonderful way to raise money.’” An idea was born, and the Elks began an annual radio auction in St. Paul for 32 years, with the last one taking place in 2007. Since then, the popular event has been on hiatus.
Tom Melnyk, a member of the Elks, notes, “It just became too labour-intensified for our small organization.”
“We’re short of numbers on the Elks; we’re getting old,” added Warholik, who is chairman of the St. Paul Elks’ radio auction.
But when Warholik recently spoke about the auction with a neighbour over a cup of tea, she said she would help out. “She encouraged us to go back into it,” he said, adding the organization decided to go ahead, with the help of other volunteers.
Since then, Warholik has been beating a path down town, canvassing business owners to donate items for the auction. Most people he has approached have been very supportive. “Because we haven’t had it for four years, I’m not sure how strong it’s going to be, but the response that I’ve had . . . the response has been unbelievable.”
Previous auctions have raised $275,000 for the local hospital, with an additional $45,000 raised for the helipad, Warholik said. The last radio auction held in 2007 raised $20,000, with people bidding on 249 items. This year, proceeds from the event will go towards a splash park for the Town of St. Paul.
“We go on the air at 3 p.m. and we stay on the air until everything is sold,” said Warholik.
“The community’s had a lot of fun with it,” added Elks’ member Tom Matthews. “It becomes a game with some of them trying to outbid the other guy.”
People can tune in to local radio station the Spur 97.7 FM on Nov. 4 to bid on the items and support the cause.
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