"Two! Thousand! Dollars! Do I hear more?" sang out the auctioneer at the 16th annual Livermore Valley Wine Auction held at the Palm Event Center in Pleasanton last Saturday.
His enthusiastic chatter prompted higher and higher bids for the 26 donated prizes, which ended up going for amounts that ranged from $1,250 to $5,000.
The highest bid of the evening, $5000, was paid for "Go Big on the Big Island," seven days at a luxury villa at the Mauna Lani Resort in Hawaii, donated by title sponsor Shames Construction.
Next the auctioneer launched into the Fund-a-Need, soliciting amounts of money for one of the auction's four beneficiaries. One person gave $3,000; several gave $1,000 and $500; and many donated $100 - for a grand total of $38,300.
"Despite the tough economy, our guests opened their hearts and wallets to help local kids in need," said Teri Serowoky, Winegrowers Foundation president. "The Fund-A-Need was especially inspiring because people gave generously with nothing in return."
The event had a 20 percent increase for the Fund-a-Need portion although overall proceeds were down due to a decrease in corporate sponsorships. But more people attended this year's event, which was themed Vino Carnival and offered games as well as imaginative food and wine tastings.
The four beneficiaries are as follows:
* Children's Skin Disease Foundation's Camp Wonder in Livermore, a medically staffed summer camp for children who are unable to attend any other camp due to their often untreatable diseases of the skin. This program was the focus of Fund-A-Need.
* Open Heart Kitchen's programs that feed hungry children in the Tri-Valley area.
* Oakland East Bay Symphony's MUSE (MUSic for Excellence) program that brings orchestral music education to Tri-Valley schools.
* ValleyCare Foundation's Mobile Health Unit that provides primary health care and immunizations to uninsured and underserved children in the Tri-Valley area.
"We are thrilled that the Wine Auction continues to raise funds for local children's charities. They need our help now more than ever," said Serowoky.