-Blog post by Reed Sandridge, a Kindness Investor from Washington, DC
Did you know arthritis affects an estimated 50 million (one in five) American adults and 300,000 children and is the nation’s most common cause of disability? Or that there are more than 100 types of arthritis? I didn’t until I volunteered with the Arthritis Foundation.
They held a black tie gala event called Arts for Arthritis and needed people to help with the silent auction. I pulled up to the Marriott hotel and conference center in North Bethesda and parked my car. I adjusted my tie in the rear view mirror and made my away across the parking lot to a door that I hoped would be open.
After making my way up a set of escalators I discovered that I indeed was in the right place. Art work and jewelry decorated long rectangular tables that were set up in the hallways. I took a peak inside the ballroom and found forty or fifty tables filled with men in tuxedos and women in exquisite gowns and dresses.
I couldn’t find anyone that seemed obviously in charge, so I wandered around aimlessly until I found a young woman named Mandy who said for me to sit tight until they needed me. I took the opportunity to browse the items up for bid. A photograph of Led Zeppelin taken by James Fortune caught my eye. There were some impressive paintings intermingled with a few very bizarre ones as well. I also saw a cool photograph of Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals shooting on Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during this year’s Winter Classic.
Mandy reappeared and put me to work. There were about 125 auction items that we had to organize and get ready to process payment. Having done a few auctions in the past, I have to tell you that these can be a disaster! When I had my year-end event for the Year of Giving, my friend and event coordinator Patricia told me one thing, “Just don’t do a silent auction!” I ended up doing a very small one and it went smoothly thanks to her, however, it can be a nightmare.
This one went ok, although it was stressful and we had lots of people standing in lines waiting to pay for their items. Barefoot volunteers with aching feet were fetching purchased items and bringing them to the happy owners. Unfortunately we didn’t have bags or boxes to give to those who purchased multiple items, but people got over it.
“What the heck did we end up winning,” one man asked his wife who was dressed in a fancy black lace outfit.
“The box says ‘Huggable Hangers,’” I told him.
“I’ve got no idea what they are,” he said shaking his head.
Either it was a very expensive box of hangers or it was something else packed in a Huggable Hangers box. He walked away with a confused face.
At midnight all but a few stragglers had left. Staff and volunteers collapsed into chairs and relaxed with a glass of wine. I was exhausted too, but had to get back to my brother’s house in Virginia where I have been taking care of my father for the past week as he recuperates from a total knee replacement.
I found this volunteer opportunity on Volunteer Match. If you would like to help out your local Arthritis Foundation chapter, check out Volunteer Match or your local chapter website.