United Way Women in Philanthropy Helping Hands Auction
By Kim Hachiya
Hundreds of families in need will receive diapers and winter clothing for their children, thanks to the generosity of more than 400 attendees who attended the 13th Annual United Way Women in Philanthropy Helping Hands Auction. And the proceeds also will help the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska to train parents, teachers and coaches in the signs and symptoms of concussions, allowing them to protect youth participants.
The February 6 auction raised over $42,000. In addition to 11 live auction items, a silent auction featured hundreds of baskets, purses, jewelry, wine bottles and desserts, lining the perimeter of the Cornhusker Marriott ballroom, while performers from Screamers Dining and Cabaret energized the crowd. Auctioneer Russ Puchalla urged bidders to dig deep, and emcee Bridget Fargen, 1011 anchor, kept the event moving briskly.
It takes an army of volunteers and UW staffers to pull off the auction, said volunteer event chair Staci Hass. She’s been involved for ten years, and says while she enjoys the big events, she most resonates with activities like reading to children at McPhee and Campbell elementary schools. “When the kids learn they are going to be able to take home a book, and for some it’s their first book of their very own, that’s the most rewarding thing,” Hass said.
Ashley Martin, resource development manager/leadership giving and affinity groups for United Way, was working her first Helping Hands Auction. Martin said she enjoyed learning new things from the veteran volunteers and felt personally empowered, even as the event is aimed at empowering women to act. “I feel I am at one with my community, and it will be so rewarding to see items like coats on the kids,” she said.
Nancy Biggs was back for her 13th Helping Hands Auction. She co-chaired the first auction, with Meg Lauerman. That event, Biggs said, was held at Talent Plus and attracted about 50 attendees who bid on purses and gloves. Its growth into one of United Way’s biggest signature events doesn’t surprise Biggs. “There are so many neat women who really care,” she said. “I love what we do with the money—it’s a laudable purpose.” Biggs, who is retired from Lincoln Public Schools, has seen the needs of families throughout Lincoln.
Meagan Liesveld surveyed the scene in awe. The auction occurred on her fourth day of her new job as United Way executive director.
“There is just tremendous energy here,” she said. “It’s a real testament to the power of women who care, who give back. You can really touch and feel the impact of that. I am grateful and thankful for everyone who came tonight.”