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Avarice for a good cause

"In one of the less glorious moments of his professional career - his first day on the job, actually - a person believed to be the editor of this newspaper wound up on the seat of his pants.The date was July 3, 1999, the event, the Rotary Auction and Rummage Sale; his folly was avarice, and the object of his downfall was a weathered metal watering can.Having been foiled in several previous auction visits, by those more fleet of foot, in his quest to pick up such an item at a discount, the editor was certain that 1999 would be the year - he would come home with a watering can, and would have a good yarn to share with readers as well. Alas, although he leapt with the drop of the rope and sprinted across the auction grounds in record time, eyes fixed on the singular prize amidst a jumble of garden equipment, his feet slipped on the damp schoolyard pavement - thud - and he suffered the double indignity of watching the coveted watering can snatched up and spirited away to a garden unknown.* * * * *Such is the stuff of auction lore, called to mind this week while strolling the grounds of Woodward Middle School, as scores of Bainbridge Island Rotarians and other volunteers collected, sorted, cleaned and priced this community's wonderful detritus for Saturday's auction and rummage. Elsewhere in this issue, a more detailed account of those preparations can be found; here, we pause to contextualize the event and suggest its import.Having spent some time around the Bainbridge Rotarians over the past year, we can report that they are pleased just this side of smugness (and occasionally the other) with the success of their annual auction, which has grown into a regional draw and huge fund-raiser for community projects. Their satisfaction is justifiable, and we would be remiss if we didn't remind readers of several of their high-profile contributions over the past year:To the new Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center, $100,000; for a proposed skateboard facility at Strawberry Hill Park, up to $50,000 in matching funds; to Rotary Rink, the new roller hockey facility at Battle Point Park, $7,000; to a trio of college-bound island teens, one scholarship of $5,000 and two more of $1,000. Since 1960, the group has given upwards of $1.6 million to such projects as the library renovation and construction of the Commons. And their capacity for largess is thanks to the auction, which last year alone raised more than $136,000. Bainbridge Rotary has in effect become the Paul Allen of the island - the deep-pocketed benefactor to whom every group with a special project comes hat in hand. (No one has asked them to buy a football team yet, but that may come.) We owe them our thanks.We should also note that the more you donate to the auction and rummage, the more money will be raised. And there's still time to drop off that old lawn mower, golf club, bike, chair or appliance. The car. The spouse. Whatever. (No, they won't really take the spouse.) Drop-offs continue through Thursday at 5 p.m.Beyond all the good the money does is the fact that rummage and auction is perhaps Bainbridge Island's zaniest, most unique cultural event. After the generosity of our donations, it is our annual descent into madness, unrestrained in the frenzy of our materialism, unapologetic in our greed.The Rotary Auction and Rummage Sale is avarice for a good cause. Don't miss it.* * * * *Addendum: For purposes of closure, we should note that after watching the editor's failure, year after year, to win the metal watering can footrace at the rummage's start, a neighbor gave him one for Christmas. It's now in regular service in the maintenance of his front-yard flower bed.We assume he'll still find something else worth chasing this year, hopefully without ending up on his rump."

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