Tonight I worked at a small charity auction. The crowd numbered ~80. The charity auctions items numbered only 12 hand-crafted art pieces.
There was no silent auction or raffles. There was no sit-down dinner. My crew stayed at home, and I worked alone. I arrived with my bag, took a few photos of the space, and then started to admire the items for sale.
When guests arrived, I mingled. The advantage of small auctions is that I have more time to visit with the guests. REALLY visit. Not just chit-chat about auction items, but really start to talk. We women in particular are good at picking up on those “good energy” vibes and we start to think, “I want to hang out with this person!”
After the auction, I heard this story — from three different guests — about one of the attendees. It is a lovely story, and I wanted to share it with you.
This particular gentleman – I’ll call him Mr. X – was standing in the back. As bidding progressed on some earrings, the competition narrowed to one man and one woman. The price rose … and the woman backed out. She clearly wanted the jewelry, but couldn’t go beyond a particular point.
As I was ready to sell them to the man, Mr. X stepped up to the side of the woman and bid. Then bid again. And again. And again. Then … SOLD! … to Mr. X.
Later in the auction, a photo-realistic oil painting of water by artist John Harris came up for sale.
Mr. X became an active bidder. The piece was popular with many bidders jumping into play. In the end, Mr. X had the final bid.
As he paid for the merchandise (which was in the four figures) and the volunteer handed him the earrings, he pointed in the direction of the woman he had stood beside. “You can give those earrings to her,” he said.
When presented with the gifted earrings, the woman was stunned! It turns out the painting of the water was also designated to be a gift, for a friend’s father who was dying and always loved the water.
One of the auction attendees knew this man personally. She said this gentleman makes it his life’s mission to give 50% of his earnings to charity. And I don’t mean only give to government-registered, tax deductible, 501(c)(3) charities, but give to any charity. To him, charity might mean someone down-on-their-luck … a sick friend… the poor … a mangy dog …. anyone he perceives as needing a friend.
His generosity reached national attention over 10 years ago when the media heard his story and he was featured on a 60 Minutes segment. To honor his decision to donate half of his income, he lives a modest life. In addition to his full-time job, he maintains a second job editing textbooks.
He doesn’t look for the publicity, but media tend to find uncommon stories like his.
There is no moral here. I’ve no tips. Just a story about human compassion and love.
We had a similar thing happen in St. Louis when we were conducting an auction for a policeman who lost his legs in a traffic stop. A woman was bidding on a cool package that included a tour of a fire house, eating lunch with the fireman, riding to the local fireworks on the fire truck and watching the fireworks from the back of the truck and a ride back to the fire house afterwords. A woman with a small boy next to her was bidding against a man in the corner of the room and it went back and forth for a while. The woman dropped out and the little boy looked like he was going to cry. A woman next to them jumped in ran it up to $400 and then just handed it over to the little boy. I thought I was going to cry myself. That is why I love charity auctions. rob