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Quilt auction raises $100k

EDCL auction sale committee member Wendy Vandenberk was one of some 100 volunteers who contributed to the day’s success on Oct. 26. This years’ event featured 125 quilts, the most profitable of which sold for $2,500. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

With everything from soup to nuts – well, make that home-baked bread to handmade crafts – the annual Elmira Charity Quilt Auction draws hundreds of bidders looking for good deals and the chance to support those in the community living with developmental challenges.

The event is the prime fundraiser for Elmira District Community Living (EDCL), with last weekend’s outing bring in near-record amounts of revenue for the group.

While the revenue is still being tallied, executive director Greg Bechard expects the total to be slightly under $100,000. The proceeds go directly towards the work of the not-for-profit organization, which supports individuals with an intellectual disability and their families.

“We’re certainly happy with the day, that’s for sure,” said Bechard. “We don’t expect to break the record every year.”

A longstanding tradition in the community, the event’s 46th annual iteration drew hundreds of people to the Elmira Produce Auction Cooperative on Reid Woods Drive.

Visitors to the auction site were met with a smorgasbord of options, including live and silent auctions of handmade furniture, crafts, baked goods and, of course, the intricate quilts that are the star of each year’s show. Also up for bid were a wide assortment of items donated in support of the EDCL cause.

This year’s auction featured some 125 quilts, many of them painstakingly created by community organizations such as church groups and sewing circles, with the most feature quilt selling for $2,500.

Other high-profit items included perennially favourite deep-dish pies – some 300-400 pies were sold throughout the course of the day. One blueberry pie ended up raising more than $2,000, said Bechard.

“This set the record for the pie auction,” said Bechard. “The pie sold for $1,076; it was donated back, auctioned again and it raised another $1,000 on top of the original $1,076.”

That pie may have set a new bar in the decades-long tradition of auctioning, buying and donating the baked goods, but it wasn’t the only one to break four figures: an apple pie raised more than $1,000 through the process of being donated back and then auctioned off again.

“That was a lot of fun – you get people bidding against one another, spending $1,000 on a pie, that’s really exciting stuff,” he said.

Some 100 volunteers, including seven volunteer auctioneers, work to make the day a success. It is the biggest fundraising event for the EDCL, who use the funds for various projects in their organization.

“The proceeds from this help purchase things that we don’t receive funding for from the government,” explained Bechard. “So things like wheelchair vans, maintaining our properties, and towards new projects that we may undertake as an organization.”

He listed the wheelchair van as an example of an ongoing use of the funds – the vehicle costs approximately $70,000 and must be replaced every year or two.

“We use these vans to provide transportation for people to and from day programs, personal events, doctor’s appointments,” said Bechard.

Currently, the association supports more than 130 individuals, providing services in Woolwich, Wellesley, and Mapleton townships.

The auction day preceded a beef brisket dinner that took place the previous night, along with a smaller auction featuring new and used goods. That also saw a large turnout, with 650 dinners served on Friday.

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