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Service Auctions Raise Big Funds
December 22 , 2006

Throughout November, residents of the seven Calvin College residence halls took time out from papers and exams to raise $23,000 for their community partners in the annual (and always wacky) residence hall auctions.

“That’s impressive money, and it teaches students about stewardship of their own money and about organizations that are doing really important things,” says dean of residence life John Witte about the auctions, which have been a Calvin tradition for over 15 years.

Each dorm has a specific partnership, and the yearly auction allows Calvin students to give substantial monetary gifts to these community organizations where they serve every week during the academic year:

The students living in the Schultze-Eldersveld residence hall raised $3503 for after school programs at Roosevelt Park Church. The residents of Bolt-Heyns-Timmer raised $2500 for the Kidz Klub program at Mosaic Life Church. Residents of Rooks-Van Dellen raised $3405 for Baxter Community Center. The students from Beets-Veenstra raised a whopping $7012 for the Horizons Program at Christian Learning Center. Students from Boer-Bennink raised $2700 for the Grandville Ave. library. Residents of Noordewier-Vander Werp raised $2000 for Camelot Woods; and students residing in Kalsbeek- Huizenga raised $1911.50 for Burton Middle School.

The auctions take place in the various dorms over a four-week period. They can run anywhere from one to six hours, but they are invariably madcap in tone.

Goods and services on the block range from the mundane-shower cleans; baked goods; home-cooked dinners; music; dance; knitting or snowboarding lessons; handmade cards, pictures and frames; tutoring-to the exotic: mystery dates, massages, charter fishing trip, poetry and musical serenades, room decoration for Christmas.

Some services were practical, such as valet parking in the East Beltline lot and chauffeur service. Others (usually those that significantly boosted the bidding) were downright loony, such as the person who auctioned off rights to his hair for a week; the winning bidders could shave anything into his scalp.

Then there was the dorm president who allowed a floor full of young men, who paid a good price for the honor, to do her makeup for a day. “She then spent the day going to classes and other places looking that way,” Witte says. “It was a hobo-clown type of look more than serious attempt at makeup. She frightened the children in the dining hall.”

While the auctions are both fun and beneficial, Witte says, they also serve to highlight longstanding ties between community organizations and the students who tutor, plan activities and gym nights, sing and socialize. “Raising the money is one important part of the partnership,” he says, “but the more important part is the ongoing relationship the students develop with these organizations.”

Sophomore Christian Swenson, a community partnership coordinator for Beets-Veenstra residence hall, agreed. Swenson is enthusiastic about his dorm’s work with the Christian Learning Center’s Horizon’s program, a program for individuals with special needs:

“It gives students the opportunity to interact with a type of people that I don't think they would ever do on their own. They learn that just because a person is mentally handicapped, doesn't mean they can't hold a conversation or have fun. It breaks down this fear barrier that people seem to have about special needs people. Plus,” he added, “it’s just a rockin’ good time. The Horizons and Calvin students both love it.”

~written by communications and marketing staff writer Myrna Anderson