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Auction: A generous audience raises more than $300,000 to benefit Boys & Girls Club of the SCV

Posted: June 16, 2010 8:49 p.m.
Updated: June 17, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Anna Ott, second from right, president of the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, celebrates at the head table of the 39th Annual Benefit auction held at Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia on Saturday.

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It was the perfect evening to raise money to benefit the thousands of Santa Clarita Valley youth who are served by the Boys & Girls Club of the SCV. The pleasant weather brought out more than 1,000 attendees Saturday evening to the Mann BioMedical Park in Valencia. Most dressed in black biker regalia to fit in with the "Born to Be Wild" auction theme.

The guests bid generously on more than 50 live and hundreds of silent auction items.

At the end of the night, the 39th annual Boys & Girls Club of SCV Benefit Auction raised more than $300,000 to help fund operations of the club, which has facilities in Newhall, Canyon Country and Val Verde.

The club provides youth in the SCV a safe place to go after school and during school vacations. Homework assistance, exercise and education opportunities are provided by the club to members. Dues to the club are $36 per year per child.

"In these economic times, it is more of a challenge to raise funds," said Jay Thomas, co-chair with wife Ashley Thomas, of this year's auction. "For single parents, this club offers a safe place for their children to go and learn, get their homework done and be surrounded by positive mentors. That's what the Boys & Girls Club of SCV does thanks to Jim Ventress and the entire Boys & Girls Club team. They've done a phenomenal job."

Thomas described the money raised from the auction as an investment.

"This is an investment in the future leaders of the SCV," he said. "It costs nearly $500 for each of the almost 3,000 children at the club to fund the operation of the club."

Ashley Thomas said she was excited after months of preparation that the auction day had finally arrived.

"This is a great event," she said. "We're hoping for wonderful things for the kids."

John Mahaffey, interim Boys & Girls Club of SCV Foundation director, said he was excited to see many new faces at the auction.

"We're getting a lot of walk-ins and general admission, too," he said. "Last weekend's Magic Ride introduced the auction to a new group of supporters. I think this was the best auction in years."

One of the most anticipated moments of the evening came when the raffle ticket was pulled to see who would win the live auction item of his or her choice.

More than 200 of the $100 tickets were sold. Mark Justice was the lucky winner.

He was invited on stage to announce his selection.Justice could have chosen any item from a catalogue of more than 50 items that included many dream vacations, a 2007 Honda Accord, expensive jewelry, golf packages, sports memorabilia and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

He chose the "Ultimate Lakers Fan Package."

The item includes courtside seats, dinner in the private Grand Reserve Club at Staples Center and two passes to the Chairman's Room.

In addition, Justice will receive a photo with the Laker Girls prior to the game, a basketball signed by Kobe Bryant, a gift basket with a game net and other goodies.

A Mercedes-Benz limo will also be provided to transport Justice and his guests to the game. The package was valued at $10,000.

"I'm a true blue Laker fan," he said. "I'm looking forward to a Laker win, forget those Boston Celtics."

Jim Ventress, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, said the "Born to Be Wild" theme was among his favorites of the estimated 25 auctions he has attended.

"It's a fun theme - look at the number of bikes driving up and all the people dressed in the theme, this is great," he said. "The whole mood is very upbeat."

News media personality Rick Chambers served as the emcee of the auction conducted by Mark Schenfeld of the Stokes Auction Group.

"This is one of those events that you don't hesitate to say yes when they ask," Chambers said. "This is great night when everyone in the SCV comes out to support the kids. It's wonderful to see everyone here opening up their wallets for the kids. It's terrific."

Before the auction began, children from the club performed for the crowd.

The performers included Hawaiian dancers and several singers.

A clever video brought laughter from the audience as Ashley and Jay Thomas were shown (with the couple's heads were placed on animated bodies) ice skating, performing gymnastics and other activities as they debated what theme would be best for the auction.

Then, as "Born to Be Wild" blared from the loudspeakers, a parade of motorcycles led by Jay and Ashley Thomas, circled the tables to set the mood for the evening.

The top live auction item was the head table for the 2011 auction purchased for $15,000 by Anna Ott after a furious bidding war with the Bank of Santa Clarita.

"I've always looked forward to the auctions because of the themes," said Ott, president of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV Foundation. "The bottom line is that this is for the kids."

Also bringing in top dollar was a 2007 Honda Accord LX donated by Valencia Acura.

"We wanted to do something to help the kids," said Fleming. "It will make a nice car for someone."

The car was won by Howard Kaplan after bidding drove the price to $11,500. Kaplan bought the car for his daughter Heather Kaplan.

"I have a great dad; he just got me a new car," said Heather Kaplan.

Another top auction items was the Harley-Davidson XL Sportster Low donated by Old Road Harley-Davidson and Doug McGuire.

The bike was purchased by Chris Aldieri.

"I used to ride a motorcycle when I was a little bit younger but I've always had the bug in me," he said. "It's a beautiful motorcycle and it's all for the Boys & Girls Club where I'm a board member. It's all for the kids."

Jay Thomas congratulated Aldieri on his purchase.

"I'm so sad that my bike was sold," said Jay Thomas, who had his eye on the Harley-Davidson for several months, and rode the bike in the Magic Ride held June 6.

"But I'm ecstatic that it was sold to someone who is going to go and have a lot of fun with it. But I'm still working on Ashley to let me have a motorcycle before next year's Magic Ride," Thomas said.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, visit www.scvbgc.org.

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