MORTON — The Morton Community Foundation is taking a different approach this year to raising the funds it needs for operating expenses.
Instead of hosting a fall event like the Oktoberfest and Boots and Bling parties of recent years, the foundation is holding an online auction of 49 donated items.
Bidding began Wednesday and will continue until 8 p.m. Nov. 1 at www.mortoncommunityfoundation.org.
Several items do not have a monetary value.
For example, there's an opportunity to attend a practice with the three-time defending state champion Morton High School girls basketball team on the day prior to a home game and design an inbounds play that will be used by the Potters during that game, free tickets to the game, VIP parking and seating at the game, and a postgame pizza party with the team.
The winning bidder also can listen in on Coach Bob Becker's pregame strategy session and pep talk.
As of Sunday, the high bid for the experience was $200.
Also up for grabs in the auction are a reserved parking spot from November 2017 through October 2018 at Westwood Park for baseball games and Fourth of July fireworks, donated by the Morton Youth Baseball Association board, and a reserved parking spot for school events at Morton Junior High School for the 2018-19 school year.
High bids as of Sunday were $210 for the Westwood Park parking spot and $120 for the junior high school parking spot.
"I like items like these (without a monetary value) because people consider their bid more a donation to the foundation than buying something," said Scott Witzig, the foundation's executive director.
Other auction items include a one-week stay in a cabin in Gordonsville, Va., two tickets to a 2018 St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium including access to the Cardinals Club, a baseball autographed by Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, and a two-hour party for up to 200 swimmers at the Morton Park District pool.
Witzig said the foundation's board decided several years ago that it wanted to reduce the foundation's reliance on its fall fundraising event to pay for operating expenses.
"The board wanted to get to a point where we could skip a year with the event and/or do something different," he said.
A program was started four years ago so donors could give annually for foundation operating expenses, and it has worked well, Witzig said.
Only $13,000 needed to be raised this year to cover operating expenses instead of the $60,000 to $70,000 needed annually before the program began.
Thanks to $3,000 raised by the foundation through an online auction in September that had Morton Pumpkin Festival and Morton High School football team related items, the $13,000 goal was reduced to $10,000.
As of Saturday, the leading bids in the ongoing auction totaled $7,200, more than 70 percent of the $10,000 that's needed.
To prevent bidders from waiting until the last minute Nov. 1 to grab an item, any bid made in the final 10 minutes before 8 p.m. will add 10 minutes to the bidding time.
"That way, the bidding mimics a live auction," Witzig said. "Bidding will continue until there are no more bids, not a time limit."
The foundation will hold some sort of community fundraising event next year, Witzig said, most likely with less expensive ticket prices than in past years.
Founded in 2000, the not-for-profit foundation has nearly $4.5 million in managed assets and has awarded grants and scholarships worth more than $3 million.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.