"It's for the kids," said Andy Busch, one of two auctioneers at the annual Mahomet Area Youth Club's Boot Scootin' Auction.
Last Friday, approximately 250 people gathered in Doug and Stacy Schroeder's barn north of Mansfield for the youth organization's annual fundraiser.
"It's our biggest fundraising event of the year," said Matt Difanis, former MAYC board president and the evening's emcee, "so it's legitimately a fun event and it's kind of turned into a Who's Who of Mahomet."
Last year, many of the raised funds assisted with MAYC's move to its 700 W. Main St. clubhouse.
This year's funds will assist with supporting after-school programming, work study programs, field trips, scholarships for summer programming and much more.
"All of the costs of the event are donated or covered by sponsors," MAYC director Chad Hoffman said. "All money raised on the night of the event are returned to the club for programming."
For the last 24 years, MAYC has helped area youth develop the necessary skills to become productive community members through its after-school and out-of-school programming.
"People perceive Mahomet as being this upscale bedroom community, and it certainly has a lot of upscale residents. In fact, we're counting on them to be generous," Difanis said. "But, 25 percent of our school district enrollment is free and reduced lunch qualified and so there is a tremendous financial need in the community that I think is often overlooked, and MAYC provides a variety of services specifically targeting those kids."
Longtime volunteer Trudy Matthews, who is also the wife of club founder Gary Matthews, who began with the club when it was still associated with the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club. For Trudy, the MAYC's auction is a good way to see the fruits of the couple's labors.
"He (Gary) told me we would be involved for one year and then it would be self-sufficient and then we will go on," Trudy Matthews joked. "That was 1994."
All kidding aside, Trudy Matthews understands the impact both she and her husband had on the lives of so many Mahomet youths.
"I come here, and there are all of these kids and they were 6 years old, 7 years old and now they're getting married, some are married, and they still come back and it makes you feel good," she said.
Heather Bautista, a former MAYC youth, reiterated the importance of the club's programming during a video entitled, "Why MAYC Matters."
"It shaped me a lot as a person," Bautista said. "I wouldn't have the stability in my life I think as a child that they gave me."
Bautista joined MAYC when it first opened in 1994. She shared that she was raised by a single mother who had three children, and the club was pivotal in her development as a youth.
"We never went on family vacations. My mom couldn't afford that with three children. We did so much with them," she said. "They taught me how to ski, they taught me how to play sports, they were really just involved in doing things that the parent that was missing in my life should have done and they were there to do it."
Bids from over a dozen live auction items contributed over $20,000 to the auction's proceeds with the largest bid ($3,700) going toward an Army-Navy football trip. Next was Chicago Bears vs. the Minnesota Vikings tickets ($2,700) followed by a night in Nashville getaway ($2,200). Other top auction items included an overnight stay and visit to the Southern Illinois Wine Trail for six ($1,900), a 90-minute tour from Illini Pub Cycle for 15 along with two growlers from J.T. Walkers ($1,700) and a duck hunting or bow deer hunting trip ($1,350).
Approximately 60 silent auction items brought in nearly $10,000 in donations to MAYC. A new set of tires and the endless vacation rental ($900) tied for the largest silent auction items sold, but the Cardinals vs. Cubs tickets ($625) were a close second.
The evening also included performances by the Wildwood String Band and Discount Rhythm Dukes Band, along with a dessert auction and other raffles.
"I love seeing all the support that we have at the club," Hoffman said of the auction. "This included item donors, supporters who bid and won items, and volunteers who give of their time and energy. It's amazing to see all of the support."