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Local business organizations host auctions for charities

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Local auctioneer Barry Maxwell begins the bidding at the Natchez Rotary Club’s annual Christmas Auction Wednesday at the Carriage House Restaurant.

By Julia Nagy

The Natchez Democrat

A  gavel, a prized smoked turkey and a ball of Mississippi State cheese are all several local civic clubs need to get into the Christmas giving spirit.

Christmas auctions have been a mainstay fundraiser for the Natchez and Ferriday Rotary clubs and the Natchez Trace Kiwanis Club for years. The annual affairs serve not only to entertain, but to raise thousands of dollars to be used for the clubs’ charities.

And even though that DeWalt Cordless drill may only cost $99 in the local hardware store, it can go for closer to $200 on the auction block when the proceeds go to charity.

The Natchez Rotary Club collected $22,500 Wednesday during its nearly two-hour auction at the Carriage House.

Curtis Moroney, club president, said the money raised from the auction is roughly a third of the organization’s total budget for the year.

“Our dues don’t do nearly as much as what the auction does,” Moroney said.

Wine, smoked turkeys and vacations were among some of the items auctioned.

The money will go to various charities and groups around Natchez and internationally. The Natchez Rotary Club gives money to groups such as the Boys & Girls Club, the senior citizen’s center and the Red Cross.

Moroney said the auction is a successful event for the group.

“It makes us all feel good,” Moroney said. “I’d really like to get across that Rotary has been a solid organization over the years.”

The Ferriday Rotary Club had its auction last Thursday at the Panola Woods Country Club and raised $7,000, secretary treasurer Don Tate said.

In Ferriday, all the items auctioned are wrapped beforehand, so bidders don’t know what they’re getting when they place their bids.

The auction is the group’s main fundraiser for the year, Tate said.

Part of the money will go to a scholarship fund providing $1,500 to three seniors in the area.

“We couldn’t have the scholarship without it,” Tate said. “We know the price of education is going up all the time, and parents need all the help they can get.”

For the Kiwanis Club, its auction at the Carriage House Thursday night raised $4,300.

Jewelry, hunting gear and Christmas related items such as nativity scenes were auctioned off.

Club Treasurer Ginga MacLaughlin said a majority of the money will be used for scholarships. The group gives a $300 scholarship to an outstanding senior and a four-year $550 per year award to a college student.

“We feel it’s important for young people to continue their education,” MacLaughlin said. “The idea behind Kiwanis is to help children.”