December 05, 2017 | Hannah Ebeling


Community service auctions take place each year in every residence hall on campus.

Throughout the months of November and December each residence hall participates in the time-honored tradition of hosting a dorm-wide service auction.

“I think that giving is so often underrated in college,” said Anna VanWolde, student president of Rooks-Van Dellen (RVD) residence hall. “Students believe that they are unable to give because of their limited finances. Having giving being centered around a yearly partnership and a fun event brings back the importance of it! Even though we have so little, we have so much compared to others, so why not give.”

Auction for a cause

On November 20, nearly 100 students crowded into the Rooks-Van Dellen Hall (RVD) lobby for their annual service auction. The funds from the auction are going to Baxter Community Center, a nonprofit organization that has been connected to the residence hall for several years.

Each hall is connected with a specific nonprofit organization which the residents partners with and volunteer at throughout the year. Students from RVD serve in Baxter's Child Development Center on a weekly basis. All proceeds are donated to the child development portion of the organization since it recently underwent some changes in funding.

Many students use the service auction as an opportunity to give back using their unique talents and gifts, many donated handmade goods, services and even lessons. This year, the dorm had 31 items donated for the live auction, and a little over 20 items for the silent auction portion. 

Some popular items included the prized resident director parking spot for the month of January, a custom CD mix, bathroom cleaning, breakfast with Second Rooks, tennis lessons, custom-designed wall art, a week of cat memes, and homemade dinners.

Students had lots of fun outbidding each other for a good cause. “I love seeing people get really into a certain item,” said VanWolde. “They get so excited, and it's fun to see that energy be given to something so meaningful!”

To encourage students to donate, the Residence Hall Executive Team (RHET) created a number of incentives for each giving amount raised. “The dorm raised $2,000, which means two extra days of open hours during interim, the RAs will be pouring paint on their heads and eating mashed up taco bell and the RHET team is going to be pelted with 200 water balloons during interim,” said VanWolde.

One of the most memorable parts of the auction was the opportunity to pie someone in the face for only $1. Students seized on the opportunity to have some fun while supporting a good cause.

Partnering for a difference

The auction was just one more way for students of RVD to show Baxter that they care. Through weekly visits, events and various service-learning opportunities, Baxter has become very important to the community of RVD. “I love that Baxter helps children in the community, specifically with child development,” said VanWolde. “Child development is something that I am passionate about, so I love that Baxter partners with the Grand Rapids community in that specific way.”

Students who volunteer at Baxter help out with childcare, hang out with older kids, clean and disinfect toys or help out with general cleaning duties.

While the night was filled with lots of fun and games, the emphasis was always brought back to the reason for all of it. Through this one night of generosity, students were able to show just how much Baxter Community Center means to them.

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