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Hands of Hope

Rock the River

Story and Photos by Rebekah Yearout

The annual Hands of Hope Auction Party, benefitting the Exchange Club Family Center, was held for the first time at The Orpheum Theatre’s Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts, and by all accounts, was a great success—not just financially, but socially.

With room for two bands to perform, one in the lounge area—where two friends from Nashville set up and played an acoustic set—and a larger band performing later in the night on the main stage, plenty of music floated through the room all night. Auction items were set up from the entrance along the main corridor of the Halloran Centre for people to view and place bids on. There was no shortage of ways to stay busy. A cash bar, as well as a complimentary beer and wine bar, was set up (as was a table by the registration offering complimentary champagne for guests who wished to toast the occasion), and a delicious meal of baked chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes was served, along with a unique barbecue setup where the barbecue was served at the bottom of a cup with baked beans topped with coleslaw as a decorative finish.

Kim Weiss, the coordinator for Hands of Hope, said they had nearly 400 people and the auction raised just shy of $170,000. “The auction went great; we sold about 175 auction items, the live auction had seven items and it alone raised about $12,000,” said Weiss, who’s been volunteering for the Hands of Hope event for five years, with this her first year as its coordinator.

The fundraiser has been going on for years, and is the largest annual fundraiser for the Exchange Club. According to the Exchange Club website, proceeds from Hands of Hope “go directly to our various programs designed to break the cycle of child abuse and family violence.”  

Cameron Yates, event director at the Halloran Centre, said it was a great crowd and the second silent auction they’ve hosted.

Yates said the ability to bid via the web or mobile apps encouraged people to engage more at such fundraisers. “It was great, it was very involved, a lot of fundraisers right now are moving towards the mobile bidding, people are more active just because they can pick up their phones, and it makes for a more fun experience, because they can socialize and bid on items simultaneously. We were happy to have them here, and happy to work with them, and we are glad it was successful,” Yates said.        The event was presented by IberiaBank and State Systems Inc. Corporate sponsors included Allenberg Cotton Co., JNJ Express, Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc., AutoZone, Gerber Taylor, MCR Safety, Ring Container Technologies, the Hauber Foundation, AC Electric Co. Inc., First Tennessee, Chuck Hutton Chevrolet, Macy’s, T-Shirt Champions, Pinnacle Financial Partners and Summit Truck Group. In-kind sponsors were Inferno, Memphis Made Brewing Co., Signworks and Cooper Mountain Vineyards.


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