NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 2, 2013

Stars of the night

Saturday auction benefits Boys and Girls Club programs

By Angeljean Chiaramida
STAFF WRITER

---- — If you love soap operas or have a yen to do a little acting, the Boys and Girls Club Starry Night Charity Auction is the place to be on Saturday night.

Among the many items up for bid at this year’s fundraiser are a walk-on part on the soap opera, “Days of Our Lives,” as well as four VIP tickets to “The Doctors.” The package was donated by former area resident Marnie Saita, who wanted to show how important she feels the Boys and Girls Club is to families and children throughout the area, said the club’s executive director Jim Keenan.

The package is only the beginning of a huge list of items available to the highest bidders on Saturday at both the silent and live auctions, which accompany dinner catered by Andiamo. There’s something to fit everyone’s budget, for although live auction items usually retail for more than $250, silent auction items are valued at $250 or less.

Red Sox and Patriots tickets will go under the gavel, as will all kinds of electronics, golfing foursomes, fishing trips, a 24-foot boat slip at Newburyport Boat Basin valued at $2,280, and numerous hotel stays and vacation retreats, such as a seven-night, all-inclusive trip to St. Lucia, estimated at $2,500. There’s even a two-night stay at the Salisbury Hotel, located in New York City.

Three members of the Patriots will be represented at the auction. There’s signed memorabilia from Doug Flutie and Rob Gronkowski, and a Tom Brady autographed jersey valued at $1,250.

But that’s only a handful of the hundreds of items at the auction. Volunteers will create a wine cave displaying scores of bottles of wine and super-sized champagne offerings.

Some of the most unique items are six Adirondack chairs, custom painted by club members just for the event, Keenan said.

“The kids have done a great job painting the chairs,” he said. “One has a palm tree, another a parrot. They’re really great.”

Members and volunteers have poured thousands of hours in organizing the event, which is the club’s largest fundraising effort. This is the 12th year of the auction and the goal is to bring in as much as last year.

“Last year was our best year; we brought in about $70,000,” Keenan said.

Every cent will go to helping local youth and continuing to provide what recently became award-winning kids programs.

“We’re about to get three awards from the National Boys and Girls Club of America, which is meeting in Miami,” Keenan said. “We won for having the best overall programs for a club with a budget of less than $500,000, for the best membership practices and retention, and we won a communications award.”

The largest youth organization in the area serving the lower Merrimack Valley, last year the Boys and Girls Club provided families from the area with $80,0000 in financial aid to cover the cost of its $25 membership fee or admittance fees for vacation and summer camps.

“No child is ever turned away due to financial concerns,” Keenan said.

The club serves families and children ages 6 to 18, in grades 1 through 12 in eight communities, including Amesbury, Merrimac, Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury, West Newbury and Seabrook and Hampton, N.H.

“Parents need a safe and affordable place for the kids to be after school and during vacations,” Keenan said. “We have diverse programs that attract and retain boys and girls with a wide variety of interests and needs.”

For more information, visit visiting www.bgclmv.org, or call 978-462-7003.

IF YOU GO

What: Boys and Girls Club “A Starry Night Charity Auction”

When: Saturday, doors open at 5:30 p.m. Silent auction begins at 6 p.m.; dinner at 7:30; live auction at 8:15.

Where: Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley, 18 Maple Street, Salisbury

Cost: $50 per person (Attendees must be 21, for alcohol is present). Tickets are available by calling 978-462-7003, but only 230 will be sold. Tickets can be purchased at the door as long as they last, or call to reserve.