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An Auction with Heart!

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The fifteenth episode of “A Religion for Our Time” spotlights the Outreach Auction at Central Unitarian Church (CUC) in Paramus, New Jersey. Inspired by a charity auction at the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, members of CUC are in their tenth year of holding two annual auctions. While the spring auction raises money for the congregation, every dime from the Outreach Auction in the fall goes to local charities.

“Don’t listen to any naysayers, just do it,” says Celia Mendelsohn, co-coordinator of the Outreach Auction. “You will raise funds, even if it’s what you feel might be a modest amount, it’s going to grow over the years. You will not lose money to pledging. You might even see your pledges increase, because it’s a wonderful feeling to belong to a church that does this.”

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REV. PETER MORALES: If you ask the members of Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, New Jersey, about their annual auction, they'll say which one. Spring is the season for their service auction and the fall there's a very different and very inspiring alternative.

REV. DR. MATT TITTLE: I'm Reverend Matt Tittle, the minister at Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, New Jersey. We're in the middle of our 10th annual outreach auction.

SPEAKER 1: Next is a beautiful photograph by Andrew Lester. And we're starting the bidding at $50. You ready for $50? I've got $50 in. How about $60? Anyone on $60?

REV. DR. MATT TITTLE: Now most Unitarian Universalist churches have an auction where they raise money for the church. This is a second auction that we have every year that raises a hundred percent of the money for local charities. We're supporting Habitat for Humanity, our local National Guard armory, a homeless shelter, a sanctuary committee, a food pantry, and many more.

BROOKE CANNATA: The inspiration for the auction actually came from Heart and Soul, a charity auction which is done by All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan. And we went slowly at first, made it part of our service auction. It spun off very quickly into its own entity.

CELIA MENDELSOHN: We have all members contribute something for the auction. Usually get gift certificates from local salons or restaurants.

BROOKE CANNATA: There is a wide range of items from worth virtually nothing to very, very expensive things. So there's something really for everyone.

SPEAKER 2: Eight, oh, five, four. Eight, oh, five, four. Straight back.

BROOKE CANNATA: We have a representative from each charity get up and speak for two minutes to state their case more or less.

SPEAKER 3: Joe Chuman from the Bergen County Sanctury. Come up and tell us about their charity.

JOSEPH CHUMAN: First what I'd like to do is express my sincere and profound gratitude to the Central Unitarian Church for your ongoing generosity for our -- what I think is slightly life-saving program.

BROOKE CANNATA: Patrons of the auction are given the opportunity to make a straight monetary donation and they do not get anything in return. They're just donating money, and that actually is the bulk of the money that comes in from an auction. It's not about getting something back. It's about giving.

CELIA MENDELSOHN: We were thrilled that we raised $41,000 this year. And over the last 10 years we've raised approximately $225,000 for our charities within the local community. Don't listen to any naysayers. Just do it. You will raise funds even if it's what you feel might be a modest amount. It's going to grow over the years. You will not lose money to pledging. You might even see your pledges increase because it's a wonderful feeling to belong to a church that does this.

ROBIN CANNATA: We had over 200 people here. A lot of people were non-church members, which was great, and I think we did a lot for the people in need in Bergen County. And I'm really proud to be part of this congregation.

REV. DR. MATT TITTLE: Unitarian Universalist congregations can be incredibly generous. I hope that your congregation will try an outreach auction, in addition to your service auction.

Visit the Central Unitarian Church in Paramus website  for more information.

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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, June 17, 2011.

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