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Paying for the reunion - Fundraising Auctions Raffles 3 

Wilson Family Reunion

Pamela Williams, Fredricksburg, Virginia, reported that the Wilson Family Reunion raffled "theme baskets" for their reunion. Ten committee members provided baskets containing items in various themes including fishing, family history, child safety, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, cleaning time, health and beauty. The family really enjoyed these baskets. One of the lessons learned from this event was that you should always charge enough for tickets. Click on images to enlarge.

Wilson Family History Basket (Winner was Gloria Moore of Oxford, NC)

It's Cleaning Time Basket (Winner was Michelle McPhatter - wife of Guest Gospel Artist, Charles McPhatter of Dumfries, VA)
Health & Beauty Basket (Winner was Sandra Hancock of Los Angeles, CA
Homemade Jams & Jellies Basket (Winner was Thonya Fisher of Charlotte, NC) The Fisherman's Basket (Winner was Walter Jones)

Auctions and raffles are good fundraising fare
Patricia Hardcastle, Pocatello, Idaho, wrote at the end of each Jeppson Family Reunion there’s a family auction. Between reunions, family members busy themselves making auction items. Each shows a unique talent: Leah’s embroidered pin cushions, Clayne’s cradles and wooden flutes, Patty’s porcelain dolls, Steve’s artwork, Janice’s tole painted signs, and each auction’s highlight, Grandma’s jean quilts which often go for $1,000 or more.

Each auction raises family fund money, used to finance reunions. Auction money supplements food and lodging costs for college students and children under eight to help young families participate. Families not seen for years are appearing at reunions, which makes older family members gladly spend upwards of a thousand dollars at each auction.

A recent addition is children’s crafts. With over 60 children on the run, the auction became a raucous event! To appease kids and relieve parents, children’s items are auctioned first, then a few stalwart souls take the kids to another room to make a keepsake craft and smash a piñata. It’s truly a “kid-tested, mother-approved” activity.

Eva Melton, Crestview, Florida, reported the 60 people at their reunion raised $1,200 with a raffle and auction. Melton’s mother made a beautiful quilt, a big favorite, sold by raffle. Everyone wanted it. One of Melton’s brothers brought a whiskey bottle filled with change and had people guess how much money was in the bottle. The winner gave the money back to the reunion fund, and it was auctioned to the highest bidder.

Questions seeks answers
We asked our newsletter readers for more ideas.

Susie Peevyhouse Hockaday, Rutherford, Tennessee, wrote that her Peevyhouse Family Reunion used to have the same problem as Patricia Murray “and we have a large family! Then three years ago, I had each family bring at least one auction item. This worked wonderfully. Not only does it provide money, but everyone looks forward to it. When they contact me, they always make sure we are having the auction. A cousin does a great job as auctioneer and makes the entire event fun.”

Hockaday continued, “It doesn't hurt to try it. I was amazed at how ours went over. My aunt’s coconut cake brought $25! Last year, I had members write their names on a fabric square. An aunt embroidered names of ones who weren't able to attend on squares. Now, I’m sewing these blocks together to make a wall-hanging quilt to be auctioned at the reunion. I just wish everyone had as much fun at their reunion as we do.”

Tracy Schrader, Alliance, Ohio, whose Snyder Family Reunion is held the third Saturday in October in Letart, West Virginia, wrote, “Every year, we auction crafts we've made or things we no longer want. We make a lot of money — more than we did when we just asked each family to donate money toward the next reunion. Item prices vary. A couple aunts paint and kiln their own ceramics. They sold many of their things. People donated jewelry, homemade jams and bread, seasonal vests and crafts, books, etc.”

Marilynn Stewart, Bear River City, Utah, writes the Stewart Family Reunion has also found an auction a great way to raise money. Family members bring items and Grandma always makes a quilt and embroiders a set of dishtowels for auction. Stewart says, “Grandma’s items always bring big bucks! We always include smaller items for children to bid on, usually a dollar or so. Some family members offer services to be auctioned. One of my nieces auctioned a couple haircuts and cuts hair at the reunion.”

Email your fundraising ideas to or send to Reunions magazine, PO Box 11727, Milwaukee WI 53211.

Brown Family Reunion
An auction was used at the 2005 Brown Family Reunion as a fund start-up for their 2007 reunion. Members brought items they thought would raise an eyebrow for bidding. Believe it or not, a miniature stuffed purple dinosaur went for $20. The bid for ancestor/previous reunion photos was a high hitter (raised over $250). Another fundraiser was collecting coins; the person who brought the most in change (quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies) was the winner. The prize was that amount toward her portion of family dues. Rose Washington won with $31.10.

Videos ($10) were also a source of fundraising. It took about one year to create a family reunion timeline video. It included an introduction to Charlotte, North Carolina, and a tribute to those passed. The family felt it was well worth it, and it was received well by everyone. Tears flowed during the Memory Tribute, and laughter filled the room after the completion of the tape. The family was able to help edit the finished version by giving information we did not have. Orders were taken at the reunion and sent later.

Reported by Roxie Branch, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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