For many years, the Florenceville Rotary Club hosted its annual dinner and auction as one of its most important fundraising efforts. Funds raised at the event go towards many of the club's community service projects.
Last year, with COVID-19 protocols making social gatherings impossible, the Rotarians opted to cancel the dinner and take the auction online.
Carol Brennan, the Florenceville Rotary Club's fundraising co-chair, said members believed the online auction, while successful, would be a one-time event.
In August 2021, she said, Rotarians began planning the return to the dinner and auction format. However, Rotarians again adjusted their plans back to the online model when the COVID-19 fourth wave hit New Brunswick, including sending northern Carleton County into short-termed circuit-breaker restrictions.
Unlike last year, when the online option proved new and untested, the Florenceville Rotarians entered this year's planning with valuable experience in hand.
"With the experience gained last year, it was easy to transition to the online format again," said Florenceville Rotary Club president Tony Trafford.
He credited the work of Sunset Auction Sales Inc, which facilitated the online event with more than 200 items up for bids.
Brennan said both years' events proved equally successful, raising similar amounts of money. She said this year's event, held from Nov. 9 to 12, raised approximately $14,000 to go to local projects.
"There was definitely a learning curve last year that we didn't have to face this year," said Brennan." In terms of financial success, the net return was almost identical both years."
She said the success of these events reaches beyond the financial gains for the club.
"The comradery and goodwill that club members experience working with the donors and each other to make this fundraiser happen is also a feeling of success," said Brennan.
She said the Florenceville Rotary Club members come from Florenceville-Bristol, Bath, Centreville, Hartland and surrounding communities.
"The business community that serves these areas is very supportive of this event," said Brennan. "Local businesses and individuals generously donate the many items."
Trafford said the auction would not be possible without the committed community support.
The club provides a list of donors on the Florenceville Rotary Club Facebook page and its website at https://www.florencevillerotaryclub.com/
Brennan said one advantage of the online auction is that it's not limited to those attending the dinner.
"Buyers were from as far away as Sainte Anne-de-Madawaska, Nashwaak Bridge and St. George," she said.
Brennan said the Florenceville Rotary's local projects focus on youth, literacy, health, the elderly and food security. She added that the club also supports global initiatives such as eradicating polio, clean water solutions, safe stoves, and shelter boxes for areas struck by natural disasters.
Brennan and Trafford aren't ready to predict what 2022 will bring regarding auction plans.
"Rotarians and the local community had enjoyed a dinner auction for many years," said Brennan. "One thing the pandemic has taught us is to be flexible and look for new ways to serve the needs of our community. We feel fortunate that as one door closed, another opened and allowed us to continue to raise funds for community projects."
At this point, she said, the Florenceville Rotary Club can only wait to see what next year brings.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun