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Despite the rather inclement weather outside, the bidding was hot and heavy for about 700 attendees on hand Saturday (April 27) inside the Northern Indiana Event Center for the 19th annual “Bids for Kids” auction — a unique fund-raiser that drew a host of deep-pocket bidders from the area’s RV industry and the rest of the community, as well as participants from as far as Florida and China. Organizers reported that the event again garnered about $1.4 million for the Boys and Girls Club of Goshen, Ind.

“So, it (the net proceeds) was just about where we’ve been the last few years, and we had about 18 new live auction items this year,” reported Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) CEO Jason Lippert, who co-chairs the annual fund raiser with Michilah Grimes, director of philanthropic relations and Acts of Service for LCI. “We had a lot of great trips — including a stay in a six-bedroom home near Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa, Calif. — and a lot of exciting experiential stuff. And I think the cool thing was at the end we had two beautiful caramel mini golden doodle puppies that each went for $23,000.”

Attendees also bid on golf packages, merchandise and trips to exotic locations and events, including tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Las Vegas and a trip to Los Angeles to visit Jay Leno’s car collection.

About 100 LCI people supported the auction, catered by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse from nearby Granger, either as working volunteers or bidders, added Lippert, who’s been focused on the Goshen charity for about 10 years.

“The Bids 4 Kids allows us to bring in programming for the arts and to introduce them to character-building activities and instill in them what they need to know for their future,” said Matthew Fischer, chief advancement officer at the Boys and Girls Club of Elkhart County. “We have raised grades for the school systems, kept kids safe and off the streets and reduced school suspensions. Honestly, what this is doing is allowing the staff to fulfill the mission to inspire and empower these kids.”