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Children's Auction Champion, Sarah Gray Transformed Her Childhood Grief Into Community Gifts



When Sarah Gray found herself sitting on the board of the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction, voting on an allocation of funds for the same services she benefited from as a child, she realized she had come full circle in life.

The co-owner of Body Covers grew up in a single-parent household, endured a traumatic childhood and was on the receiving end of many of the kinds of nonprofit services the Children’s Auction supports. Sarah’s success story is a testimony to tenacity, the power of community and organizational impact.


Despite her rough childhood, Sarah went to college, studied graphic arts, married her husband, Aaron, and worked alongside him after they purchased Body Covers, a small screen printing business the couple has grown into a community powerhouse.


Sarah loves her job. Meeting business owners in the Lakes Region and using her creativity to develop their marketing projects gives her pleasure.


Body Covers offers everything from custom clothing to logo design, and its expansion of quality services has allowed them to grow from two employees 20 years ago to 11 now. Their work can be seen on custom-designed T-shirts around the region at business and fundraising events; on jerseys and signage at sports games; and on employee apparel at local restaurants.


“We see ourselves as stylists for the area,” Sarah says, adding with a chuckle, “We try to make this area look as good as we can.”


Sarah first contributed to the Children’s Auction years ago by donating items like T-shirts. As she began to learn more about where the money raised was going, she was inspired to get more involved.


It was part of Sarah and Aaron’s dream to support local nonprofits and leave the area better than they found it. “It’s important you act like you live somewhere and care about what goes on around you,” she said.


Sarah’s was one of the original teams participating in the Pub Mania fundraiser that supports the Auction. She wasn’t interested in taking part in serious athletic events that raised money, but sitting at the bar at Patrick’s for an hour was just her crew’s speed.


Impressed by her enthusiasm and dedication, Allan Beetle, co-owner of Patrick’s Pub, told Sarah her energy was needed on the Children’s Auction board. She “answered the call” and was a board member for four or five years before joining the Auction’s Distribution Committee when her term on the board ended. The Distribution Committee receives all nonprofit requests for funds and makes recommendations on disbursements to the full board. Sarah finds this work to be incredibly interesting and has been an integral member of the committee for four years.


Sarah says Allan opened her eyes to the area’s great needs. She planned the Auction’s first luncheon for volunteers and has decorated the Auction site several times—twice alone, which took about 40 hours to make the set and building eye-catching and festive. Body Covers is also a year-round drop-off location for auction items.


The Children’s Auction, though not the only recipient of Body Covers’ generosity, receives the majority of its community contributions because of the maximum impact; the Body Covers crew’s chooses the Auction to support, attends Auction events together and takes part in Pub Mania as its Christmas celebration. Sarah loves how many good people she has connected with through her work and through the Auction.


“We live in a very generous place,” she says. “The Auction is a good place to put your energy, your funds and your elbow grease.”


Sarah isn’t afraid of hard work, and her elbow grease is essential to the well-oiled machine the Auction has become.

“I’ve met every career goal I ever wanted. I never dreamed I’d be this big,” she says. She is grateful to her amazing crew, which makes it possible for her and Aaron to continue to give as much as they do while still operating a booming business.


Donating to causes is like an addiction—a good one, Sarah says. Her husband often jokes that she is giving away the farm, but Sarah says, “It’s just what you do.”

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