Campus fundraiser raises over $200,000
UPDATE April 3: Upon receiving additional information on early FC auctions, this article has been updated.
Fresno Christian hosted alumni, teachers, and donors during its 34th annual auction, March 25. This year, the school also celebrates its 40th anniversary, which was the central theme of the auction; the school’s past was spoken about several times in speeches by Superintendent Jeremy Brown and other speakers.
Attendees had the chance to bid on dessert tables, certificates, as well as silent and live auction items. Bidders also participated in several raffle drawings, where they could win an iPad, among smaller prizes.
Although he is a long-time parent of students at Fresno Christian and a former student himself, Michael Koop attended the auction for the first time this year.
“Both of my kids, Morgan and Wyatt, attended Fresno Christian from kindergarten,” Koop said. “I was also an FC student between my fourth and eighth-grade year, starting at the school’s inception. I think this auction is a little different, with the fact that we’ve been going for 40 years now. With this being my first one, it’ll be interesting.”
Many of the school’s supporters are parents whose children have already graduated. Larry Kumpe is one such person and is a regular at the auction.
“I’ve got a grandchild in junior high and both of my adult kids attended Fresno Christian,” Kumpe said. “We have been supporters of the school for 30 years so I’m here at the auction again. My favorite part of the auction is seeing all of the high-priced items.”
Live auction items up for bidding included a football signed by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, Giants tickets, a dinner prepared by campus home economics students, a trip to Niagara Falls and two separate helicopter rides.
Although many of those attending were parents, many alumni also show up to support the school. Jordan King, ’01, enjoys returning to Fresno Christian to assist the next generation of students.
“I am an alumnus from the class of 2001, and I just love being able to be here and support the school,” King said. “I love seeing all of the other alumni, parents, and everyone coming together to support the school. It’s not about buying things at a bargain price but raising money for the school.
“I have come to the auction every year for probably the past five years,” King said. “I believe in the vision of the school and building up tomorrow’s leaders. I want to do anything I can do to support that, and if that means coming to the auction, or whatever I can do to get involved and support the students, I’m happy to be there for it.”
Steve Loveless, ’96, noted the school’s gym, which was built in April 2000, and was decorated especially for the auction.
“I went to Fresno Christian from second grade until I graduated,” Loveless said. “I went to Fresno Christian on scholarship the whole time, so it’s cool to come back and see how that stuff happened. It’s interesting, [the auction] is really well done. It looks amazing in here; it’s a lot more than I expected. This gym wasn’t here when I was here; I think I’ve only been in here once. I played basketball, too, so it’s cool to see the new gym. It’s really impressive, really well done.”
Pete DeGroot, a former board member, has witnessed the school’s improvements over several generations.
“All five of my children went here, and now six of my grandchildren attend Fresno Christian,” DeGroot said. “This was by far one of our best auctions in the last ten years. We continue to grow as a school because God has been with this school for 40 years, and He will be for a long time.”
According to Robert Bradford, member of the school board, Fresno Christian is attempting to increase its reach in the community.
“I’ve got five grandkids; one of them is here now,” Bradford said. “The others have all gone on to college, or have graduated college. I do sit on the board, and we’re trying to expand the school, bring more people in, and make it exposed to so many more people here in the Fresno area.”
Before the auction, Marvell French, chair on the auction committee, was hopeful that its success would exceed the goals of the committee.
“My hopes for this year are that we’ll exceed our goal, which is netting $130,000,” French said. “Because of the 40th anniversary of the school, we sold 56 tables and had a waiting list, and that’s why we moved all the silent auction stuff outside. The more people you can have here, the better.”
The first auction in 1984 was held in a hotel banquet room in downtown Fresno. In later years, it was hosted at Fresno Pacific College.
At first, these events were more modest; the first auction netted $3,000. With the proceeds earned, the club was able to purchase two buses. The annual tradition was started by the Parents Athletic Club, led by Vern Reynolds and Judy (last name unknown). Reynolds remembers two unique items sold.
“The biggest item we sold was a used riding lawn mower,” Reynolds said. “Most everyone that evening kicked in a few dollars and raised $900 so we could give it to the school. We also auctioned off an eight-week-old purebred cocker spaniel that sold for around $200.”
During these start-up years of the auction, students played a big role in ticket sales and getting items to sell.
“Starting the second year, we had a booster week where students would join Judy for five nights, to call parents and supporters to sell tickets and collect items,” Reynolds said. “The students did an awesome job and for most of them it was a challenge to get on the phones and ask people to be a part of what FCS was doing. This turned out to be a great way to let people know what was going on at school.”
After four years, Jack Wender became chair of the committee, followed by Jack Hurley. Hurley also remembers moments from one of the first auctions.
“One of my favorite memories from the early auction days was when a group of dairymen, including Pete DeGroot, would compete with each other,” Hurley said. “In fact, on a pair of bicycles and a quilt, they re-donated the items after winning the bid and would buy the items again, doubling the donation.”
During each of the first couple of actions, an eight-foot thermometer was created out of plywood to keep track of donations. Organizers used red felt on the thermometer to drive up the temperature as the donations grew in the early years.
This March, however, French’s 2017 ambitions were more than met; this year’s auction was Fresno Christian’s biggest, both in terms of attendees and money raised. Over 440 people attended, and over $200,000 was raised, with the amount projected on large screens to finish the auction off.
Please share your past and present recollections of the FC Auction in the comments below. The Feather would be grateful for early stories or the community’s version of the first 34 years.
For another feature, read The Magic of Storytelling.
Pictures below from FCS 34th annual auction.
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