The Bids for Kids auction drew 730 last year

The 17th Annual Bids for Kids dinner and auction event benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County will return to the Northern Indiana Event Center at Elkhart’s RV/MH Hall of Fame starting at 5:30 p.m. on May 6.

The evening will include live and silent auctions of more than 50 items, with a catered dinner and cash bar provided by Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Attendees are invited to wear their favorite team jerseys to match the event’s tailgating theme. Featured auction items will include:

• Trip for two traveling through Italy.

• Front-row tickets to Lady Gaga.

• Costa Rica Adventure for four.

• Suburbicon Hollywood movie premiere with Matt Damon & George Clooney.

• Movies & Stars – Telluride Film Festival in the Rockies.

• Nature Lovers Getaway in Alaska.

• Yankees vs. Red Sox VIP luxury suite with a former World Series Yankee player.

• Private jet round-trip for seven.

Registrations so far are tracking to match last year’s 700-plus attendees, taking the Hall to full capacity once again. Those interested in attending can sponsor a table by clicking here.

The ever-growing event, chaired by Jason Lippert of Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) for the last nine years, has become favored among local RV companies, as 51% of the 1,100 kids served by the organization have at least one parent working in the industry.

This year’s Bids for Kids comes as construction projects funded by the RV Industry Challenge capital campaign, spearheaded by Lippert in 2015, are coming to fruition. The Goshen Club’s expanded building will be introduced during a community open house on June 10. “With the additional 19,000 square feet, Goshen can increase their membership by more than 40%, and it’s being transformed into a technologically updated 51,000-square-foot building,” said Michilah Grimes, LCI’s director of philanthropic partnerships and former director of events at BGC of Goshen. “Kids are excited and anxious, and ready to get back into the club.” 

Meanwhile, the brand-new Elkhart facility is expected to open in November. Previously, the Elkhart club occupied space in two different schools. “They’ve never had their own building before,” said Grimes. “It’ll be the same type of facility as Goshen’s, as far as services they can offer. Elkhart really needs this new building; they were pretty crowded.”

LCI personnel in particular invest a great deal of time and effort in support of Bids for Kids, according to Grimes, who said it ties in perfectly with the company’s “100,000 Hours of Community Service” social responsibility initiative. “With around 8,000 employees, we have emphasized personal responsibility and support for our community, especially with the industry doing so well right now,” she said, adding that 15 to 20 employees help with set-up, about 40 coordinate it, and more than 100 will be in attendance. “It really is something our entire company gets behind and gets excited about.”

Bids for Kids has been such a success that it brought the BCG of Elkhart County the Outstanding Resource Development Award from the Indiana Area Council of Boys & Girls Clubs of America in March. The event has become the largest single fundraiser for the organization.

“We live in a community of very generous individuals and it is extremely humbling,” stated Grimes. “And it’s so neat to hear from staff about the kids coming in and seeing their parents’ employers represented as sponsors. It makes them feel part of it. It’s so good for them to feel their parents’ companies supporting them every day.”

The 2017 Bids for Kids event is supported by presenting sponsors Lippert Components Inc., Consolidated Metals Inc., Bob and Amy Martin, and Camping World Inc. Platinum Sponsors include Dometic Corp., Furrion, Genesis Products Inc., Glenmore, Green Lake Tube, Hull Lift Truck Inc., Jeffrey and Sabrina Kime, Lithotone Inc., Patrick Industries Inc., Rollie Williams Paint & Chemical, Standard Industrial Corp., Stealth Trailers with Kelly and Karen Rose Foundation, Superior Steel Supply, Thor Industries, Welch Packaging Group, Wildman Business Group, Wire Design and Wuxi Mesida Company.

With clubs in Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Nappanee, Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County provides children aged 6-18 with a positive, safe place to learn and grow while developing ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals. Through five core program areas including Character and Leadership Development, Education and Career Development, Health and Life Skills, The Arts, and Sports & Recreation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County opens the doors to life-enhancing experiences to provide hope and opportunity for youth in Elkhart County.