Beaufort News

Hilton Head Rotarian auction celebrates 20 years

An annually televised auction that has helped pay for several big projects in Beaufort County will celebrate its 20th anniversary when cameras roll at noon Saturday.

The VanLandingham Rotary Club auction has raised more than $1 million for local charities since it began in 1994. The Hilton Head club's event usually brings in about $80,000 a year, as bidders vie for a variety of prizes, from gift cards to boar hunts, that are donated by Lowcountry businesses, restaurants and residents.

The list of projects the auction has helped pay for includes the virtual learning center for the after-school program Neighborhood Outreach Connection in The Oaks apartments on Hilton Head Island and Hilton Head Volunteers in Medicine's pediatric dental clinic. It has raised more than $225,000 for the Hilton Head Boys & Girls Club.

This year, the club has pledged $100,000 to the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head. Club president John Farrenkopf said the money would go toward new classrooms for students visiting the museum.

He said it might take the club two years to fulfill the pledge.

"For us to kill that in one year is a good goal, but tough to hit," he said.

Bidders can either call the WTOC television studio in Savannah or pledge money online. These days, it's more of the latter.

"We used to have big ... plywood boards where we'd hang the bids on after someone phoned in," Farrenkopf said. "Now, 90 percent of our bids are online."

He said his favorite auctioned item was a rare Indian motorcycle sold in 2009.

This year, a Rotarian from North Carolina donated a $10,000 rug that could fetch big money.

"You got to get something that everybody wants," he said. "And it's fun, because it's all for a good cause."

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Auction website