365ink #396 November 24–December 8, 2021 - Page 4

As Toys For Tots season hits fourth gear , and the toy loads start going out , I ’ m also just wrapping up my annual live Facebook Silent Auction to raise funds for my favorite charity . I think this is my fifth year of doing this , and it seems to get a bit crazier each year . People really look forward to it , and the generosity flows for one big week . If you missed it , I ’ m sorry . If you made it big , thank you . If you had the winning bid for like 10 things , thank you even more and I love you forever !
I have to be honest : In the midst of moving into a new house , making 365inks and getting the “ giving ” part of the toy season going , I went from being way ahead of the game a month ago to semipanic mode two weeks ago . Usually by Nov . 1 , I have most of my auction items pulled together and ready to rock . This year , I didn ’ t even start seriously calling around for donations until that date . But people gave , and gave big , like they always do . Consider that for all of the dollars in kindness from the bidders is an equal amount matched by the donors who gave those items people bid upon . From a $ 1,200 diamond necklace from Jerry ’ s Pawn on Central Ave ., to a $ 1,300 very rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 12-yearold bourbon from Family Beer and Liquor Store in East Dubuque , to a big stack of $ 10 gift cards from Burger King and free movies at Phoenix Theatres , it all adds up big time for the Marine Corps Toys For Tots program . In seven short days online , this auction raised us over $ 20,000 again this year , for the third straight year . And , in doing so , also solved the Christmas present problems for dozens of Dubuquers . Over 150 bid packages made a lot of Christmas wishes come true .
And now I ’ m going to bed for at least a full day . Man , while this auction is a Godsend , it is also an absolute pile of work for the week leading up to its start . It ’ s a good thing that I am the hack-and-slash Photoshop master and wordsmith extraordinaire to whip up 150 sexy promotional images and about 10,000 words worth of descriptive package text in a single weekend . Yeah , I ’ m patting myself on the back . It was a slog . But I always know it will be worth it .
Just like standing in the cold for hours outside Theisen ’ s one Saturday every winter is worth it for the kids of the Tri- States . Especially when you stop by there and drop a toy or cash off to me . Hint ! Hint ! Nudge ! Nudge ! Yes , I ’ ll be there again this year , on Saturday , Dec . 4 , along with Radio Dubuque ( that ’ s Rob Anglin ) and the
gentlemen of the Dubuque Marine Corps League . Theisen ’ s is such a great host and makes it an enjoyable day . And I can tell you already that the anonymous donor who gave us a very surprising $ 10,000 in the final hour of Stuff the Truck because he heard it on the radio last year has reached out in advance this year and done it again . WOW ! A Santa-sized salute and OOH- RAH to that kind Dubuquer , as well as the team behind Stuff the Truck for creating the kind of promotion and visibility that makes our efforts visible to great supporters like this . Every single donation helps . But $ 10,000 is pretty incredible .
As much experience as I have now in my 15-ish years of running the program , you still never quite know how it will run you in circles from day to day . You might be picking up bags full of stuffed animals from a pet store one day , and loading 2,000 pounds of pet rock kits into a truck in Platteville , WI , the next . So you roll with the opportunities and take what you can get when you get it . After a couple hour warm-up session following Stuff the Truck , we head down to the Dubuque Fighting Saints Teddy Bear Toss night at the Mystique Community Ice Center . Make Dec . 4 the night you go see great home-ice hockey action and bring along a stuffed animal to throw onto the ice after the Saints score their first goal and contribute to the hundreds of plush toys that come in for use in just a couple minutes every year . And as I say Happy Thanksgiving , I ask that you pivot to the next big holiday and look for those Toys For Tots donation bins all across the community or just go online to dubuque-ia . toysfortots . org and make a tax-deductible cash donation . Every penny stays local , and last year Dubuque spent every penny on toys . All overhead costs of our campaign were donated . Now that ’ s the Christmas spirit ! •
4 365INK MAGAZINE November 24 – December 8 , 2021 Issue # 396 DUBUQUE365 . COM