Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction sets record
By John Koziol Union Leader Correspondent, Full article here.
BELMONT — Thanks to the generosity of donors and bidders, and maybe some latent magic in the space where it was held, the 2022 Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction set a new record, raising more than $625,000 to help needy children and families.
“Wow! Wow! Wow!,” said Jaimie Souza, moments after the four-day Children’s Auction, having brought in $625,724, wrapped up Friday in the former Peeble’s department store space at the Belknap Marketplace.
In 2019, the Children’s Auction, which has led a peripatetic existence since its founding by Lakes Region radio personality Warren Bailey, set a then record of $600,032 while being simulcast from the Peeble’s in what was then known as the Belknap Mall.
President of the Children’s Auction for six years, Sousa admitted she was “thrilled, exhilarated and exhausted,” and also relieved, when the 2022 Children’s Auction ended.
“We didn’t have enough items to finish (bidding) on Thursday,” she recalled, but once appeals were made for donations, the items came rolling in, literally, in shopping carts.
Sousa said the 2022 Children’s Auction was again blessed by large-ticket items and correspondingly large winning bids.
For a second year, the Laconia Country Club donated a one-year membership, which has a value of $5,500, but which drew a bid of $40,000 in 2021 and fetched $74,000 in 2022. Meanwhile, a 2023 season pass for two to the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion received a winning bid of $12,000, some $2,000 above its cost.
“The last time we broke a record it was in this space,” said Sousa, who thanked the 300 or so volunteers who helped put on the Children’s Auction and who extended thanks in particular to the LCC.
“We’ve never had quite as high an over-bid as the Country Club,” she said, adding that, hopefully, the pattern will continue on well into the future. Cumulatively, the Children’s Auction has now raised more than $8 million.
In a post-Auction address to volunteers, Sousa confessed that “I’ve entirely forgotten what we talked about at meetings” before the Auction, stressing that the most important thing was how much was raised to help their fellow Lakes Region residents: “Six hundred twenty five thousand.”
Ward 6 Laconia City Councilor Tony Felch, who is a longtime Auction volunteer and fundraiser, gave Sousa a hug and told her “We did it…again.”