One of Bainbridge Island’s biggest community events — the Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale — has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island announced Tuesday.
“Given the wealth of questions about how this public health crisis will evolve over the coming weeks and months, it is with sadness that we announce the cancellation,” organizers of the island’s biggest fundraiser said in their announcement.
In past years, work on the auction and sale has kicked off in the spring. The benefit is a major draw during the island’s annual Fourth of July celebration, and attracts a crowd of locals and visitors that number in the thousands.
“This was a painful decision, but the health and safety of all who participate is paramount,” Rotary officials said, adding that the big event requires more than 1,500 volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours to pull off.
“In this extraordinary time, members of the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island are proud to be part of our strong and vibrant community. We are confident that by working together and taking care of our most vulnerable neighbors, we will weather this uncertain storm.”
The cancellation of the benefit will be felt, organizers noted.
“Over just the past five years, the Rotary auction raised more than $2 million to fund community grants to nonprofits, large community projects, scholarships for Bainbridge Island students, international humanitarian projects, and other worthy causes that support our community. Additionally, each year unsold auction items are put to good use by many nonprofit organizations.”
Bainbridge Rotary officials said they are exploring alternative ways to raise money to continue the nonprofit’s support of community projects.
“We thank all of our past volunteers, sponsors, vendors, shoppers, and everyone who has ever loaded up a car full of treasures and driven it to Woodward Middle School. As for that box of Rotary Auction donations in your garage right now, please keep it going for 2021. Next year’s Rotary Auction, which will be our 60th, will be a community celebration like none other,” auction organizers said in Tuesday’s announcement.
“Our community is tenacious, and the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club’s passion and commitment to community service will not waver,” club officials said. “We will stand together and emerge stronger for our efforts. May you and your loved ones be safe and well.”