Supporters ‘Pass the Plate’ for Rowan Helping Ministries
By Steve Huffman
They danced, cheered and generally had a grand ol’ time Saturday evening.
Better still, it was all for a good cause.
By the time it was all said and done, they’d raised more than $80,000 to benefit Rowan Helping Ministries.
“And we’re still counting,” said Dianne Scott, the organization’s executive director. “This is fantastic.”
The event held at Catawba College’s Crystal Lounge was Rowan Helping Ministries’ annual Pass the Plate celebration, the organization’s biggest fundraiser.
Hosts volunteer and provide for any number of activities ó everything from a Cheeseburger in Paradise get-together to a day spent watching the Carolina Panthers ó for the event.
A rambunctious crowd ó populated with generous and vigorous bidders ó then chimed in as each of the offerings was put up for auction.
The evening’s high bid was $6,000 for a wine and gourmet dinner for 22 people at Uwharrie Point. The dinner, hosted by Wendy and Paul Capito and Christy and Wink Cline, includes everything from a reception featuring Dom Perignon champagne to a dessert of Bananas Foster.
The dinner was just one of the fun activities offered for bid. Hosts offered a total of 15 events for auction, the minimum bid for any being $2,000.
Silent auctions for dinners by one of four area chefs were also held. Others donated calendar bids where they agreed to pay to feed the homeless at Rowan Helping Ministries on a particular day.
The cost for those calendar bids was $50 for breakfast, $250 for lunch, $100 for dinner or $400 to sponsor an entire day. Scott said a number of people made those calendar bids, contributions that were still being totaled late Saturday.
(The sponsorships are also available online at www.rowanhelpingministries.org.)
At the back of Crystal Lounge, Pass the Plate participants could affix their names to a date on large calendars. Many did so in honor or memory of someone or for a particular birthday or anniversary.
Scott said that with any luck, the calendar donations and bids on the silent auctions would bump Saturday night’s bid total past $100,000, the group’s goal going into the evening.
Regardless, the total is a significant increase from a year ago when Pass the Plate raised a little more than $57,000.
“I’m exhausted but relieved,” Scott said late Saturday. “I think there’s a good chance we’re going to make our goal.”
Rowan Helping Ministries spends $25,000 a week providing food, shelter, clothing and financial assistance to nearly 400 men, women and children.
Funding is of the essence, Scott said.
Saturday’s celebration was for a good cause, and there was a generous supply of laughter mixed in as well.
Mark Lewis, a member of the Salisbury City Council, dressed in drag like John Travolta’s character in “Hairspray.” He did so as part of a Hairspray party that was one of the events up for bid.
The party includes music of the ’60s, a disc jockey and even a milkshake bar. David Whisenant, who emceed Saturday’s celebration, was asked during the bidding if the party included a visit by Edna, Lewis’ character.
“It apparently does now,” Whisenant replied.
Bidding on the Hairspray party started at $2,100 and topped out at $2,600.
Just before the bidding kicked off, Seth Evans, a local entertainer, stepped to a microphone and organized two lines of dancers much like a scene from a ’60s-era sock hop showcased in “American Graffitti.”
Lewis ó a large man who was a sight to behold dressed in drag ó strutted and strolled through the line, prompting numerous photographers to snap pictures.
“The next time the City Council’s picture is in the paper, that one has to go,” quipped Jim Whitton, one of the more active bidders at Saturday’s function.
Another of Saturday’s offerings was “An Enchanted Day with Cinderella,” where six young girls were to be picked up for a horse-drawn carriage ride about town, followed by a tea party.
The white carriage to be used for the event was situated outside the Crystal Lounge and Angel Barber was dressed as Cinderella, strolling among the bidders.
When time came to bid on the Cinderella fantasy, Barber reminded bidders, “Every little girl deserves to be Cinderella for a day.”
“The Festival of Meat” was another popular item that was bid upon. The name caused bidders to laugh and Whisenant to shout, “There’s no vegetarians out here tonight! This is the Festival of Meat!”
Bidding started at $2,000 and topped out at $2,500. Before he stopped taking bids, Whisenant turned and asked to no one in particular, “Any phone-in bids?”
There weren’t, but there was plenty of enthusiasm displayed by the bidders in the audience.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.