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ARC needs auction items for Starlight fundraiser

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Oct 6, 2021

For the Animal Refuge Center, the Starlight Auction is the biggest fundraiser of the year, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to keep the lights on and the animals in their care housed and healthy.

But to have an auction, you need auction items, and every year more than 100 individual baskets are prepared by the auction elves between now and Nov. 1 and help to raise a significant portion of the total auction proceeds.

The 27th annual Starlight Auction will happen Saturday, Nov. 27, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort, which has hosted the event most years.

Betty Hughes, ARC’s treasurer, said the event features at least 100 basket combos, artwork and jewelry, as well as around 20 live items on which to bid, which are usually the most expensive.

“The live items are the most expensive, and midway through the live auction we do a no-item ask, which help pay the surgical, medical and operational needs of caring for 400 animals every day,” Hughes said.

The elves need the public’s help in collecting certain items for gift baskets, things for which many retailers are happy to donate gift certificates.

Among the items needed are $25 or more gift certificates to local area restaurants, spas, nail salons, PetSmart or Petco Stores, grocery stores, and hair salons; Pre-made baskets containing wine, liquor, non-perishable food products valued at $50 and above; wine, liquor, specialty mixes, specialty bar items; Scratch off lottery tickets; and medium to large baskets to put the items in.

ARC is also looking for sponsorships, which start at $300 which includes two tickets to the auction event. Hughes said sponsorships have been selling well, but they can always use more.

The auction has raised as much as $245,000 in the past. Last year, with COVID and the limited seating, ARC raised about $170,000.

This year could be the best ever, Hughes said, as a $50,000 match has been offered by two individuals.

If the audience gets to $50,000 in auction sales, the two anonymous donors will match it.

“It’s exciting. We haven’t had a match in several years due to the economy and COVID. We expect to perhaps break a record,” Hughes said.

Tickets are still available, but sponsors typically get most of the tickets, so Hughes suggests getting tickets now.

Collected items may be dropped off at ARC from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. from now until Oct. 20. Please wear a mask when entering the Adoption Center, or mail to ARC at 18011 Old Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers, FL 33917 or P.O. Box 62605, Fort Myers, FL 33906.

For other collection options or questions, call Lisa Viola at 770-0153.