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the season for giving
Story by Casey Rinaldi, Photo by Shaila Creekmore

For more than a decade, three Jonesboro-area Lions Clubs have worked together to host a television auction that helps provide sight and hearing care for area residents in need. Saturday, Dec. 13, will mark the 11th annual Jonesboro Lions Club TV Auction. Brad Baker, event chairman, said the three local Lions Clubs have collaborated on the fundraiser since 2002.

“Members of the clubs had been looking for a project to do together, and the decision was (made) to try a TV auction,” said Baker. “Obviously, we could not do this on our own. Suddenlink, Ritter Communications and Ad Pro have been media partners since the beginning. Together we’re able to put together a quality show that showcases businesses in our community while raising
funds to help those in need. Since its inception, the Lions TV Auction has netted over $100,000.”

Proceeds from the auction go directly to the local community, providing sight and hearing care to area residents in need.“Our clubs provide comprehensive eye exams and eyeglasses to people in the Jonesboro area who have no other viable alternatives,” said Baker. “And if eye surgery or hearing aids are required, patients are referred to Mid-South Lions in Memphis for no cost care.”

Baker explained how the annual TV auction has grown over the years.“The first auction we did ‘by hand’ … that is we tallied bids on a whiteboard in a crowded conference room filled with individual cell phones,” he said. “We sold about 60 items in the first auction.

The 2014 auction will feature over 150 items generously donated by area merchants, and over 65 percent of bids will come through our website. Now we’re on an internet-based system that records bids in nanoseconds through a program developed by Brad Wilcox to showcase sponsors and bidders on TV and through our website.” Community partnerships have allowed the event to expand dramatically, Baker said. Suddenlink provides the studio and technical staff; Ritter Communications provides 10 phone lines; and Ad Pro produces advertisements for the auction. The annual fundraiser is held in December each year for specific reasons.

“It’s the giving season, and people feel more generous,” said Baker. “Plus, everyone needs gifts this time of year, and we provide them at good prices. Having it in December puts function and form together so people get the warmth of donating to a worthy cause while also accomplishing a personal mission.”

Organizers are hoping for a record year for the 2014 Lions TV Auction with a goal of raising at least $12,000.

“Because Jonesboro-area businesses are so generous, we expect to have a record number of items and through our advertising and coverage in Occasions, we hope to have a record number of bids, which will lead to record proceeds, 100 percent of which will help the sight and hearing impaired in our community,” he said. The decision to televise the auction each year seemed like the most effective way to showcase the Lions Club, Baker said, and also serves as a rallying force to inspire the community to help support the cause.

“There are several Lions Clubs throughout Arkansas that have successful live and radio auctions. There are a couple that have TV auctions, and even one or two that have Internet auctions,” he said. “Our thought was that TV would be the best outlet to showcase the Lions Club and what we do, as well as to raise funds to help the community. With our media partnerships, we’ve been able to
do both TV and Internet.”

What started on a small-scale basis has grown by leaps and bounds since 2002. “We believe with TV and the Internet, as well as the cooperation and support of our partners, sponsors, donors and even bidders, the potential for the event is unlimited,” he said. Baker expressed appreciation to the many businesses that make the fundraiser a success each year. “Thank you to every business that donates. Without them, the Lions would not be able to continue providing direct care to those in need from our area.”

For more information on the Lions TV Auction, contact Baker at 935-3750 or by e-mail at midsouthlions@msn.com. For a preview of the items up for bidding during this year’s event, visit the auction’s website at lionstvauction.com.