Boys & Girls Club's only annual fund-raising event coming Saturday

During the first Kids Auction and World's Greatest Barbecue Boys & Girls Club fund-raiser 10 years ago, organizers raised $4,000.

"We were thrilled to death that we made a profit," said club Executive Director Kathy Blankenship

This year, she wants to make 33 times that.

"We are hoping to make in the neighborhood of $135,000 this year," she said of the fund-raiser, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.

That's entirely doable. Last year's $100,000 was down -- due to a weak economy -- from more than $120,00 the previous two years.

"We've done a few things different this year in order to meet our goal," Blankenship said.

First, the club had Capital City Entertainment contract with the Drifters for their first West coast performance in two years.

Second, the event will move indoors for the first time under the cover of the Pony Express Pavilion in Mills Park.

"We're hoping that because of the location -- because it's indoors and not too windy -- that we'll be able to sell a few more tickets," Blankenship said.

Third, the club got help from John Procacinni of the Upstage Center Theater. He has donated use of his stage, lights and staff for the event.

"That in itself is an $11,000 donation for the one-night use," Blankenship said. "His donation has significantly improved the quality of our event."

Tickets for the concert, dinner and auction are $75 or $100, a big ticket price, Blankenship admits.

"But with all the food they get, the concert, the opportunity to bid on some really great items and the hosted bar, they're actually getting a fairly significant amount for the ticket price."

All proceeds go to directly to the Boys & Girls Club's $1.3 million annual budget.

"An event like this helps us keep the doors open so we don't have to turn kids away," Blankenship said.

The need is there with a 2,000-strong membership growing. The slow economy compounds the problem, she said.

"(The downturn) is kind of a Catch 22 -- it's tougher to raise the money, but we're seeing more and more clients because there are more families that need our services."

The 10th annual auction and barbecue is the club's only real fund-raiser. Its only other fund-raiser is the Annual Giving program, which is more of a one-on-one request for donations.

The club also has its sights set on building a larger facility on 17 acres it has purchased on the corner of Lompa Lane and Ridgecrest Drive.

"We've lost a lot of money, unfortunately, in the state budget cuts," Blankenship said. "We lost over $200,000 in state funds."

The club has already cut staff positions and trimmed programs.

"It's already had an impact on us so we're hoping the auction can help us keep on track."


What: 10th annual Kids Auction and World's Greatest Barbecue

When: 3-8:15 p.m. Saturday

Where: Pony Express Pavilion, Mills Park

Cost: $75 (open seating), $100 (preferred seating)

Call: Call 882-8820, 883-0900 or 885-9000


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