The Ottumwa Courier

April 29, 2013

'Every little bit helps:' Annual Indian Hills scholarship auction raises thousands

By CHELSEA DAVIS Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — Every item at Indian Hills Community College's auction, from a Christmas knick-knack to a truck, adds up to dollars awarded to Indian Hills students through academic scholarships.

Rhonda Conrad, director of the Indian Hills Foundation, said the 36th annual scholarship auction is one of three main special events the foundation hosts each year.

"We raise anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 every year," Conrad said. "It really depends on the big ticket items, such as cars, which we don't have this year. We have two trucks this year, but they're older. A few years ago, we had a nice boat that went for around $3,000. All the smaller items, the ones that go for 25 cents or $1, it takes awhile for those to add up. But the big ticket items are what makes the difference to make it to $30,000."

This year, though, the foundation received a lot of computers: around 80 laptops and 120 desktops.

"Those do add up," Conrad said. "A lot of it is college things that we are no longer able to use. The computers came from the student labs. We try to update them every four to five years to stay up with technology. A lot also come from classrooms and offices."

The money raised goes toward general fund scholarships at a minimum of $600 a piece. New or returning students who apply must carry at least a "B" average.

"It's not a lot of money, but every little bit helps," she said.

Local businesses also donated new and used items, as well as gift certificates, to the auction.

"Staff members donated all kinds of stuff to the country store," she said. "But they also gave big stuff, too, like fridges and furniture."

Students got involved in the auction, as well. Turf and landscape management students grew plants to prepare for a busy Saturday morning, where their table was swarming with people snagging plants and vegetables to fill their spring gardens.

The library also collected books throughout the year to donate to the book sale, where people could pick up as many books as they could fit in a bag for $5.

"We usually give out around 200 bidding numbers, so there are easily 300 people here every year," she said.

The auction formed nearly four decades ago because the college's auctioneering school wanted its students to practice.

"So they started collecting things, the culinary department made mother's day cakes and they collected things at the college that they needed to get rid of," she said. "But then they thought, what do we do with the funds?"

They soon banded together with the newborn college foundation and began donating the funds raised at the auction to academic scholarships for students.

Staff and students began moving items into the aviation center Thursday afternoon and had to have the entire center torn down by 5 p.m. Saturday so the planes could be moved back in for class Monday morning.

The foundation holds several different fundraisers throughout the year that eventually contribute to between 75 and 100 $600 scholarships. Other scholarships come through money given through estates and scholarships specifically designated toward different majors or colleges.

Free brownies were also passed around at the auction Saturday.

"When people eat chocolate, they're happier and more likely to spend money," she said, making the brownies a long-standing tradition at the auction.