Melba Auction

William Hansen, 13, of Melba, holds a strawberry shortcake made by Dody Willmorth that was sold Saturday during the 66th annual Melba Community Auction at Melba High School. Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 Adam Eschbach/IPT

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High school gym packed as visitors bid on hundreds of items

MELBA — As the FFA students in their blue coats helped auction winners get their prizes, Donna Hoagland noted she would've had the blue jacket on doing her part at the first ever Melba Community Auction if the student group was around when she was a senior in high school.

That was the first year the community gathered together for what is now one of the biggest events in Melba each year. Hoagland remembered her mom working tirelessly to help ensure that first auction in the late '40s was a success. She took up the mantle and started to volunteer her time to continue her mother's legacy.

In the auction's early years, the goal was to raise money to help fight polio. Since the disease has all but been eradicated, the focus has shifted to helping community members in need. And this year's was no different with more than 400 items up for auction. The event raised about $50,000 to help that goal.

Meagan Volkers said it was probably the most successful and biggest Melba Community Auction in the 66 year history. They even ran out of food for the first time ever, and one visitor had to wait nearly 30 minutes for a parking spot.

Hoagland hasn't missed a single auction all those years, and she was impressed Saturday.

“I walked in this room (where the auction was held), and I couldn't believe the crowd here. It was tremendous,” Hoagland said. “... It has grown tremendously, but we still have the support of the people in the Melba community.”

That community donates time and money to make sure the Melba Community Auction can continue help people in need. It's not just about getting a deal on a television. The highest priced item sold was a cake made by Melba resident Doris VanSchoiack — it went for $1,200 the first time on the block and was resold again and again to bring in a total of $2,200. Another cake also went for more than $1,000, and a birdcage sold for $1,050.

Volkers said the community support and especially the volunteers following in Hoagland's footsteps are really the secret to the success of the auction.

“They all come up and ask how they can help and what they can do,” Volkers said. “I've had multiple people come up and ask how they can help next year. … It helps foster the future growth (of the auction.)”

Bill Stradley was one of the more than 100 volunteers on site Saturday and said he's proud to be involved in an event like the Melba Community Auction. He said it's a great opportunity to give back to his community.

Hoagland said the community has always been fully behind the auction, even when there wasn't much money to give. She said she's been worried about the auction's future at times and worried there wouldn't be a new generation to come in and take over.

“It makes me very proud to see these young people come in and take over,” Hoaglands said. “... Melba is just a tremendous, wonderful community.”

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