TOLONO, Ill. (WCIA) — Unity High School in Tolono has raised thousands of dollars over the years with its “Great Auction.” This year was only the second time back since the pandemic started, but the donations didn’t skip a beat.
Students raised close to $14,000 by the end of the four-hour fundraiser.
They’ve been organizing the great auction since 1961. Officials say these students’ parents, grandparents, and maybe even great-grandparents participated.
This year they raised money for two causes. One was mental health awareness. The other was for ALS in honor of a faculty member’s loved one who has the disease.
Auctioneer and retired teacher Ray Cummings say the kid’s excitement about giving back grows every year.
“I don’t see them like I used to, but I see these kids and they never cease to amaze me,” said Cummings.
Some students bid on items and bought raffle tickets to win big prizes, others just came to show support.
Teacher Alec Heist wasn’t sure about performing when students first approached him about it, but in the end, he couldn’t turn them down.
“I think the student body embodies that generosity and care, not only for their clicks but for the school itself,” said heist.
“Every year I say I’m not going to do it, then I come back. So, I’m just going to wait till they have the real me in a wheelchair. I guess we’re on a gurney. I still get that mic in my hand. I’ll go with it as long as I can,” said Cummings.
One teacher says this event is a piece of what makes up the culture at unity and it’s one they don’t see ending anytime soon.