Students Paige Wagner and Emma Eko have made many memories helping out with the Adna Scholarship Foundation spring auction.
Since they were freshmen, the two have helped out with tasks, usually small, to ensure the annual event benefitting senior scholarships goes off without a hitch.
But this year’s a little different — they’ll be in the driver’s seat.
For their senior project, the two best friends are taking charge and organizing the auction, which will begin opening bids this Friday on the nonprofit’s Facebook page. The Adna Scholarship Foundation (ASF) has provided scholarships to seniors and alumni every year since 1990, and this will be the first time that two students lead the effort.
“It’s never really been student led like this, so it’s kind of new,” Eko said.
With support from the nonprofit’s board, the students have received and organized more than 100 items — from local artwork and gift cards to toolboxes and gardening benches — that will be auctioned off this weekend.
Last year’s auction resulted in more than $30,000 in scholarships being awarded to 44 recipients. With 66 students in Adna’s class of 2021, Eko and Wagner said they’re aiming higher but are hoping to hit about the same mark. The auction is going online for a second year in a row due to COVID-19 precautions.
Over the last couple weeks, during a time that’s generally slow for most high school seniors, the two have been busy receiving and itemizing a flurry of last-minute donations.
“I think the community’s always been supportive, so we weren’t surprised when there was an influx of items coming in,” Wagner said. “They just keep showing up.”
The idea to have Eko and Wagner — the self-proclaimed and aptly-titled “commodity coordinators” — lead the auction as their senior project originated from Adna Middle-High School counselor Luke Salme, who approached the girls in February with the prospect.
Salme also serves as a board member for the ASF.
“This is the first year we’ve had students in a leading role, for sure,” Salme said. “It’s been incredible, honestly, and every member on our board would say the same thing.”
The two seniors, knowing that they wanted to work together and with no project yet planned, decided to run with Salme’s recommendation. It wasn’t long before the two started attending weekly board meetings and began receiving items last month.
Wagner’s father currently serves as ASF’s treasurer and Eko’s mother is a board member, so they had longtime expertise always available at a moments notice, though by the time they started last February they were practically experts themselves.
“I think it’s been pretty easy. No curve balls thrown, I don’t think,” Eko said, giving credit to their parents who got them involved in the process at a young age.
Both say the best part of the process has been the support the community has given them. Every donor has given generously. Wagner and Eko on Monday thumbed through a 2-inch thick binder filled with photos and receipts of each item, detailing their dozens of hours of work.
“You go into a small business, and you’re just timid to ask people to donate, and they jump at the opportunity and say, ‘Yes, I can donate. Just give me a second …’ That’s been great to see,” Eko said.
“You wouldn’t always expect everyone to jump at it, especially the people who aren’t directly affected and don’t have kids,” she said.
Coincidentally, the day The Chronicle stopped by to talk with them was also the same day that all students at Adna Middle-High School were allowed to be back in the classroom full time, Monday through Friday, with health measures still in place. Since November, the school has been on a hybrid schedule.
Eko and Wagner said the coronavirus pandemic has given their graduating class a new outlook on in-person learning and how much they’ve missed socializing with their friends during the school day.
“We haven’t seen half our class in over a year. It’s crazy,” Wagner said. “It’s hard because we’ve been going to school with these kids since kindergarten … It’s been such an adjustment.”
Online bidding starts Friday and will be open through Sunday afternoon on the Adna Scholarship Foundation’s Facebook page. All proceeds will go to benefit scholarships.
ASF auction is also selling dinner plates from Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse that feed four people for $40. Meal tickets, as well as auction items won, can be redeemed between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2.
Wagner and Eko said they’ll be taking donated items up until the day of the auction. Those looking to make a donation can reach out through the nonprofit’s Facebook page.
Salme said the ASF board is hoping to continue having seniors involved in the auction in order to develop a relationship between the students and the organization.
“These two, we knew we wanted to strengthen that link between the adults who are on the committee, and the students themselves,” Salme said. “They’ve set the bar really high but we’re going to continue using a couple seniors every year as a link between the ASF and the graduating class.”
And the two “commodity coordinators” couldn’t agree more.
“I think it’s really important for the kids to be involved, to see what goes into the auction because they reap so much of what it has to offer,” Eko said.
Who: Adna Scholarship Foundation
What: The 2021 Spring Auction to Benefit Senior Scholarships
Where: Facebook — Adna Scholarship Foundation
When: Friday, April 23, through Sunday, April 25.
Why: To provide scholarships to seniors and alumni seeking post-high school education at universities, community colleges, apprenticeships and trade schools.