United Way auction raises record total

BIG RAPIDS — The Mecosta-Osceola chapter of United Way enjoyed record breaking community support recently as the organization’s annual celebrity auction brought in $14,438 — the highest amount ever raised in the event’s 22-year history.

Held at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Big Rapids on Oct. 25, the event drew more than 100 community members. Bidders purchased148 items to raise around $2,000 more than last year’s auction.

Betty Seelye, director of the organization, attributed the success to hard work and the fact that long-time auctioneer Bill Scheible was serving for his last year as auctioneer. She said more people may have come to celebrate his last event with him.

“He’s been actioneering for us than 22 years. He’s more of an entertainer than an auctioneer,” Seelye said.

Event-goers bid on items ranging from gas grills and Detroit Lions tickets to a stay at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and golf items. The most sought-after live auction item was a ride in the Celebrity Harness Race at the 2013 Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair, which went for $1,400.

“It means a lot to us,” Seelye said, of the community’s support. “There are agencies serving hundreds of people that would not exist here in Mecosta and Osceola counties, or there service would be greatly diminished if it were not for United Way.”

The money will go to the United Way Campaign, which began in September and will continue through December. The campaign currently has raised 30 percent of its $580,000 goal.

“Things are looking good and we hope we have continued community support to make it happen,” Seeyle said.