The 70th annual Hopkinsville Rotary Auction surpassed all of auction chair Scott Cowan’s expectations with more than $255,150 raised to help local students.
This auction posed a challenge for Rotarians because of the coronavirus pandemic. The uncertain health crisis forced the club to adhere to strict state Healthy at Work guidelines for auctions.
“I was completely, completely blown away,” Cowan said of the total. “I had no idea we would raise that much money. I’m humbled, I’m overwhelmed by the support.”
COVID-19 restrictions eliminated the traditional money-making diner and sweet shop, although Boston butts were sold daily.
Cowan said traditional donations from schools, which have totaled upward of $30,000, were not raised this year either because of COVID.
“They do an incredible job every year,” he said. “That was gone.”
The auction streamed nightly online at hopkinsvillerotary.com/auction/ and broadcast on the radio and television. While streaming, viewers were able to follow the boards as they were updated in real time onsite at the Memorial Building, courtesy of Cornerstone Information Systems setup.
In addition to the auction, Cowan said Hour Club Chairman Andrew Wilson, along with former mayor Dan Kemp, Rotarian Jake Williams and Betsy Shelton were making phone calls to raise funds all last week.
“Everybody knows that our auction is fun and it’s a good show, but most of the money is made through the Hour Club donations,” Cowan said. “We were trying to reach out to anybody and everybody that we knew.”
Cowan said last-minute donations on Thursday prompted him to extend the auction by an hour that night.
“By adding that extra hour Thursday it helped us finish at a reasonable time Saturday,” he said. “I’m just really grateful to the community for bidding and donating.”
The auction theme was “A Tradition of Service Above Self.” All proceeds from the auction benefit the Hopkinsville Rotary Scholars Endowment. The program was originally announced in 2008 and had its first official class of students in 2012.
This program gives high school students that graduate from Christian County High School, Hopkinsville High School, Heritage Christian Academy or University Heights Academy an opportunity to attend Hopkinsville Community College for free. Cowan said this year there are 150 Rotarian scholars.
“The need is great,” he said. “I’m just so proud of everybody down there working.”
At the close of the auction, Cowan passed the mike to Cody Noffsinger to be the 2021 auction chairman.
“Cody’s been our treasurer for four years, so he knows the math better than I do,” Cowan said. “He knows how this works. It’s a team effort. I’ll be working my rear end off for him come April. I don’t know how his auction will do either. Where will corona(virus) be? I hope we’re not talking about it in April, but who knows?”
Cowan said anyone who won an item in the auction may pick it up between 11 a.m. and 7 tonight through Saturday at the Memorial Building.